Fighting for Victims of Cancer Misdiagnosis
We expect our doctors and other medical providers to use their best judgment and make the right diagnosis, especially when our lives are at stake. When a doctor fails to diagnose something properly, the consequences can be tragic. A cancer diagnosis is particularly important since early detection is one of the primary ways in which treatment can be improved and the outlook for recovery increased.
When a doctor makes a mistake in diagnosing cancer that another, reasonable doctor would not have made, then it may be a case of medical malpractice. If you or someone you love has suffered from a cancer misdiagnosis, call Norton & Spencer, P.C., at 816-454-5800 to discuss your options for free. Our Kansas City medical malpractice attorneys have a wealth of experience in these cases, and there is no obligation if you speak to them.
Common Forms of Cancer Misdiagnosis
There are different ways in which a cancer misdiagnosis can occur, often involving some critical error or negligence on the part of a doctor, a lab, a hospital, or another medical staff member. These include:
- Failure to Diagnose – When the cancer is not diagnosed at all. This may be the simplest misdiagnosis that can occur, but that does not make it any less tragic. A failure to diagnose can happen in a few different ways. Sometimes, the doctor does not order the tests necessary to determine that a patient has cancer. Other times, the doctor might order the right tests, but then fail to read them properly and recognize that cancer is present.
- Delayed Diagnosis – In a delayed diagnosis, a doctor has all of the information necessary to see that a patient has cancer, but fails to see it at first. This type of misdiagnosis becomes apparent when someone else looks at test results later and catches what the first doctor missed, or when a doctor revisits results and catches something he or she missed before. If a diagnosis is delayed for months or years, the results can be catastrophic for a patient. Especially a cancer patient.
- Mistaken Diagnosis – Perhaps the most devastating form of misdiagnosis, a mistaken diagnosis occurs when a doctor sees test results and believes something is wrong – but not what is actually wrong. Not only does this delay proper treatment, but can actually result in unnecessary surgery or treatment. For example, a mastectomy could be performed on the wrong breast of a patient, or other treatment used when chemotherapy would be better.
Is Misdiagnosis Malpractice?
By definition, a misdiagnosis is not inherently an act of medical malpractice, but it certainly can be in some cases. Malpractice comes down to comparing what the doctor did compared to what another, reasonable doctor in the same field would do in the same situation. If a doctor misses something on an X-ray, for example, that indicates the presence of lung cancer, and another doctor sees it, then the first doctor could have committed malpractice due to that oversight. It is difficult to prove and often requires expert testimony, which is why you should never try to handle a medical malpractice case without an experienced lawyer.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In Missouri, you only have two years from when the malpractice occurred to file a civil claim. That means that if a misdiagnosis was made 18 months ago, and you just found out today, then you only have a short time to take action against the doctor who failed you. There are specific exceptions; for example, if the doctor failed to inform of a test result, the deadline is pushed to two years from the patient’s date of discovery. Either way, it is very important that you act as soon as you learn any possible malpractice has occurred in order to protect your rights.
If you or someone you care about has suffered a cancer misdiagnosis due to the malpractice of a medical professional, contact us immediately. Call Norton & Spencer, P.C., at 816-454-5800 and tell us about your situation. We may be able to help.