How common are cancer misdiagnoses?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Detecting cancer at an early stage often maximizes the chances of successful treatment. However, if a doctor wrongly diagnoses cancer, it can delay the appropriate treatment and may lead to the disease advancing to an untreatable level.

Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is a common occurrence in the medical field. Approximately 12 million Americans experience diagnostic errors every year. This opens a lot of lawsuits for medical malpractice.

When does it qualify as malpractice?

Medical professionals must provide their patients with a certain standard of care as set by the law and industry practice. If the patient suffers any injuries or damages due to the practitioner’s failure to follow the accepted standard of care, they may be held liable for malpractice. Cancer misdiagnosis may qualify as medical malpractice if there is a failure to:

  • Recognize reasonably apparent symptoms of cancer
  • Order the appropriate cancer testing and screening
  • Conduct follow-up tests based on positive or abnormal results of the original test
  • Take into account the patient’s medical or family history of cancer during the diagnosis
  • Follow the proper protocols for cancer testing, resulting in errors in the test results

Doctors are not the only ones who can be liable for medical malpractice. Nurses, pharmacists, laboratory analysts, medical technicians and other attending medical staff could potentially be responsible for the malpractice.

What should I do?

Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit for cancer misdiagnosis can be difficult. The patient has the burden of proving that the misdiagnosis made it more difficult or even impossible to treat the actual disease they have. It is a great start to collect data demonstrating that the medical professional’s misdiagnosis resulted in the patient’s condition worsening and other damages.


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