Named the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2019, misdiagnosis is more common than many once thought. According to CNN Health, 1 in 18 patients is wrongly diagnosed daily. Misdiagnosis of any disease leads to greater emotional turmoil and unnecessary financial burden.
In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Health released a fact sheet about the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases in the country. Lung cancer stands at number eight. Contrary to popular belief, this potentially life-threatening disease is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions out there.
In another clinical study published in PubMed, cancer misdiagnosis accounts for 46% of primary care diagnostic errors. Misdiagnosing cancer raises various legal, medical, and ethical questions.
What legal action can you take if your diagnosis of cancer is wrong? Can you hold your doctor responsible for medical misdiagnosis? How much compensation and reimbursement can you receive for damages, medical costs, emotional distress, and lost wages due to the misdiagnosis?
In this blog post, the expert attorneys at The Pagan Law Firm will uncover these questions and help you understand what you can do in such situations.
What Are the Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers?
Diagnosing cancer is not easy, and even the most trained oncologist can miss telltale signs and symptoms of the disease. A misdiagnosis can also occur when a doctor fails to perform necessary tests or misinterpret test results.
The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers include:
- Lung cancer: Lung cancer often emulates the signs and symptoms of most respiratory diseases, which is why it’s often mistaken for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, or asthma.
- Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer may be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal conditions.
- Colon cancer: Colon cancer is often confused with diverticulitis or other intestinal conditions.
- Skin cancer: Skin cancer is frequently misdiagnosed as harmless eczema, mole, or skin rashes. This is often due to the varying appearances of skin cancer.
- Breast cancer: Breast cancer is often mistaken for a cyst or other non-cancerous ailments.
- Prostate cancer: Like breast cancer, prostate cancer is also misdiagnosed because its early manifestations are dismissed as non-cancerous polyps.
Genetics often plays a significant role in cancer development. If your family has a history of cancer, it is essential to let your doctor know so they can perform the necessary tests. This could prevent them from dismissing a simple lesion as non-cancerous.
If you believe your doctor was negligent, contact The Pagan Law Firm today to discuss your case further. We have decades of experience and will fight on your behalf to get the compensation you deserve.
What Are the Different Types of Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis exists in various forms. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the different types of cancer misdiagnosis and their implications.
Misdiagnosing the Type of Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, over 100 types of cancers exist. Technically speaking, cancer can develop in any part of the body as this is a disease of cell proliferation. Inexperienced oncologists may miss telltale signs of specific cancer types, leading to inaccurate diagnoses, treatment delays, and other medical complications.
Incorrectly Ruling Out Cancer
Another form of cancer misdiagnosis is incorrectly ruling out the disease. This type of error is often due to negligence and the failure of the doctor to spot potential signs and symptoms that suggest the presence of cancer. This usually happens when a doctor dismisses rashes as other more common, easily manageable conditions.
To accurately diagnose cancer, the patient has to undergo a series of intricate diagnostic procedures. There are cases when diagnostic results match that of other diseases. Sometimes, doctors are on the right path, but they are often led astray by different test results, leading to incorrectly diagnosing cancer.
Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer
Several factors can delay cancer diagnoses, such as a high volume of emergency cases, not requesting a follow-up test promptly, and lack of technological capacity in the hospital to diagnose a specific type of cancer. Inefficient cancer detection can lead to the disease becoming more advanced and harder to treat.
If any of these scenarios have happened to you or a loved one, it is best to speak with a cancer misdiagnosis attorney immediately. Call The Pagan Law Firm at 212-967-8202 today.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Misdiagnosed Cancer?
If you suspect a misdiagnosis, look for the following warning signs:
- Your condition has not improved despite several rounds of treatments.
- You’re experiencing new or worsening symptoms.
- Your diagnosis is inconsistent with your medical history.
- The doctor failed to consider lab test results and other diagnostic tests.
If you think your doctor incorrectly diagnosed cancer from another condition, you must request a second medical opinion as soon as possible. You must ensure that the other doctor is experienced in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management.
What Are the Consequences of Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis entails several life-threatening complications, such as:
Undetected Progression of Cancer
When doctors misdiagnose cancer, the disease can worsen and become more resistant to available treatments. Cancer cells metastasize and spread to other body parts, making them a formidable opponent even for experienced oncologists.
When this happens, treating cancer can be expensive and may no longer respond to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other viable cancer treatment options.
Ineffective Treatment Plans
Errors in cancer diagnosis also prevent the patient from receiving potentially life-saving treatment. Although patients can seek a second opinion and receive the correct diagnosis, it might be a little too late. Most of the available treatment options may no longer be effective because the cancer has already progressed beyond its earlier stages.
Expensive and Unnecessary Expenses
Another consequence of an incorrectly diagnosed cancer is costly yet ineffective treatments. Patients may spend thousands of dollars on treating a condition that doesn’t even exist in the patient’s body. Once the cancer is properly diagnosed, patients may need to undergo a series of tests and treatments again, adding more expenses.
Grave Emotional Distress
Cancer is probably one of the conditions many people are afraid of. Imagine the emotional burden and trauma a person experiences hearing that they have lung cancer rather than asthma. When the condition is falsely diagnosed, it can be emotionally and mentally destructive to the patient.
The consequences of a cancer misdiagnosis can be life-threatening in many cases. Fill out our online contact form to speak with an attorney at The Pagan Law Firm and get the compensation you deserve.
Who Can You Sue if You’re Wrongly Diagnosed With Cancer?
Medical negligence is not the sole responsibility of a medical doctor. It’s essential to determine the cause of misdiagnosis to identify who’s legally liable. The following parties may be responsible for medical malpractice:
- The doctor who made a wrong diagnosis or failed to diagnose cancer
- Hospitals and clinics where medical negligence occurred
- Medical laboratories that carried out the tests but disregarded signs of cancer in the results
- Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute defective drugs
- Medical insurance companies that deny medical claims without valid reasons
As shown here, cancer misdiagnosis falls into the responsibility of various clinical parties. It all depends on the nature of the event and the people involved. No matter who is to blame, cancer misdiagnosis can have severe and devastating consequences.
It’s critical to consult with a reliable medical malpractice attorney to understand your rights in seeking compensation for the damages and emotional distress caused by medical negligence. Contact The Pagan Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
What Types of Damages Can You Recover?
If a clinical party failed to identify cancer or ignored relevant signs of the disease, you may be eligible to receive damages. Here’s what you can expect to recover from a medical malpractice lawsuit:
The Cost of Past, Present, and Future Medical Treatment
Suppose the doctor failed to detect cancer, and you had to undergo a series of tests, treatments, and therapy sessions again. In this case, you may be able to demand compensation for all associated medical costs.
You can often even include the cost of medical expenses for their incorrect initial diagnosis. Furthermore, you may be able to recover compensation for future medical treatments if cancer progresses significantly because of the doctor’s medical error.
Loss of Past and Future Income
Cancer misdiagnosis can also prevent patients from performing their regular duties. This means you may lose out on your current income and potential future wages due to work absences.
You can recover income loss damages if you have to abstain from work for an extended period due to the doctor’s misdiagnosis.
In addition, if you have to permanently leave the workforce to focus on cancer treatment and recovery, you can demand compensation for future income. Take note that this is only possible if cancer has severely progressed because of an inaccurate diagnosis.
Prescription and Diagnostic Fees
Cancer misdiagnosis can also lead to costly yet ineffective prescriptions. If the doctor prescribed you medication for a non-existing condition, you could sue for reimbursement of prescription fees.
The same is true for diagnostic tests and screenings. If the doctor fails to diagnose cancer correctly despite having all the necessary information, they should compensate you financially.
On top of that, you can also demand compensation for cancer treatment once the misdiagnosis is corrected.
Pain and Suffering
Misdiagnosis not only harms you physically, but it can also cause deep emotional trauma. If you had to endure psychological and physical distress due to a cancer misdiagnosis, you might be able to sue for pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering are legally classified as non-economic damages, which means they don’t have a defined financial value. It’s essential to recognize that some states may place a cap on how much money you can recover from subjective or non-economic damages.
In New York, the state government doesn’t impose a maximum limit on non-economic damages. This means you may have the chance to recover maximum compensation for pain and suffering caused by cancer misdiagnosis.
Costs of Care and Assistance
If the misdiagnosis causes cancer to progress significantly, you may not be able to care for yourself during or after the treatment. As a result, you may need assistance from family members or other caregivers for medication management and health monitoring.
You may include all associated costs in your lawsuit as well. This includes fees for professional home care services and medical equipment needed to manage your condition properly.
Additionally, you may also sue for incidental expenses associated with cancer misdiagnosis. If a loved one had to take time off from work to accompany you during medical appointments or incur travel costs, and other ancillary expenses, you could include them in your lawsuit.
In order to receive fair compensation for your cancer misdiagnosis, it is essential to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney to fight on your behalf. Call The Pagan Law Firm today at 212-967-8202.
When Does a Misdiagnosis of Cancer Qualify as Medical Malpractice?
Technically speaking, misdiagnosis falls under a type of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a category under personal injury. This means that medical misdiagnosis and personal injury share the same elements.
If the following elements are present in your case, you may have a valid personal injury case and may take legal action against the responsible party:
- Duty: The doctor and other medical professionals have a fiduciary and professional obligation to provide accurate diagnosis and optimal care. This element is easily proven in most cases.
- Breach: This element means that the doctor was negligent in providing care and diagnosis. This can be proven if the doctor fails to meet the standard of care or behaves unprofessionally. Proving this might require evidence from expert witnesses in the field.
- Injury: The cancer misdiagnosis must harm the patient in some way, like their physical health or financial situation. This can be demonstrated through medical records and disease progression.
- Causation: This element establishes a direct link between the doctor’s negligence and the harm caused to the patient. At this point, proving this element requires the expert deduction and argument of a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.
You should never suffer in silence when dealing with a cancer misdiagnosis. With the right representation, you may be able to hold the negligent party responsible for their mistake and seek proper compensation for the damages and expenses you’ve suffered.
If you believe you’re entitled to damages due to a cancer misdiagnosis, speak with an experienced attorney today at The Pagan Law Firm by calling 212-967-8202.
How Can You Prove an Error in Cancer Diagnosis?
Now comes the tricky part — proving that your doctor made an inaccurate diagnosis or failed to diagnose cancer at all. When making claims against an established professional or the entire medical institution, it’s critical to serve hard evidence to support your claim.
Here are some of the most common forms of evidence in cancer misdiagnosis cases:
Independent Medical Opinion
As continuously reiterated in this blog post, obtaining a second medical opinion is non-negotiable if you suspect misdiagnosis. You may present the independent medical opinion as evidence to prove that your doctor’s diagnosis was wrong.
It would help your case if you obtained a second opinion from a reputable oncologist or medical institution. This will further strengthen your claim and help establish your doctor’s negligence.
A complaint correspondence or complaint letter is a drafted document outlining your issues with the service or product you received. In this context, you must write a letter detailing the entire consultation process with your doctor in which they misidentified your cancer.
You must specify in your letter why you suspected the misdiagnosis, how you confirmed it, and how it affected you. Your attorney can use this as evidence to prove that the doctor was negligent and to seek compensation for the damages caused.
Medical records, such as test results, complete medical history, doctor’s notes, and other documentation related to your diagnosis, might also serve as evidence of misdiagnosis. These pieces of evidence would show that the doctor failed to correlate your symptoms with your diagnosis.
These records help build a strong court case and prove the negligence of any healthcare professional involved in providing the inaccurate diagnosis.
Other Evidence You Can Use
Apart from the evidence mentioned above, you can use other documents to prove that your doctor provided an inaccurate diagnosis. This includes copies of past medical records, relevant bills, and expense receipts.
You may also present proof of lost wages if, prior to the cancer misdiagnosis, you were earning a significant amount but now are unable to do so due to the health issue.
Proving your cancer misdiagnosis can be difficult without expert legal representation. It is in your best interest to hire a medical malpractice attorney. Contact The Pagan Law Firm today to discuss your case.
What Factors Determine How Much Compensation You Can Receive?
The amount of compensation you might receive for cancer misdiagnosis varies from case to case and depends on multiple factors, such as the following:
- The severity of injury: The amount of compensation you receive depends on the severity of your injury and its long-term effects. If the cancer was correctly diagnosed at an earlier stage, you might recover less compensation than when it’s diagnosed in later stages.
- Incurred medical expenses: The money you shed for your initial diagnosis and consequent treatments can also affect the compensation you receive.
- Shared fault: This is somewhat tricky as it depends on specific state laws. If you share some degree of responsibility in the misdiagnosis, your compensation might be reduced accordingly. Your doctor may claim that you failed to declare your medical history accurately, which contributed to the misdiagnosis.
- Non-economic damages: These damages are related to the emotional and psychological effect of the misdiagnosis on you. The court may consider these factors and decide the compensation amount accordingly.
One factor that could indirectly affect the amount of compensation you receive is the expertise of your lawyer. You may receive greater compensation if they can effectively present and argue your case in court.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help You?
When dealing with misdiagnosis cases, your best bet is to contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney to help you build your case. Investing in an experienced lawyer can help you devise a compelling legal strategy to recover the compensation you deserve.
Here’s how an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help with your case:
- Conduct an independent case investigation: They will evaluate your entire medical history, analyze the facts of the case, and verify if any negligence, malpractice, or breach of professional responsibility took place.
- Hasten the claims process: Your lawyer can handle the legwork of filing a claim on your behalf and prompt the process faster so you receive compensation as soon as possible.
- Maximize your personal injury claim: Your lawyer could also maximize your compensation by analyzing your case’s factors and assigning an appropriate value to it. They can estimate an accurate value of how much you should settle for and take the necessary steps to recover it.
- Handle the communication with insurance companies: Insurance companies might pressure you to settle for less than what you’ve rightfully earned. Experienced lawyers are not easily intimidated and can handle complicated communication on your behalf.
- Experienced court representation: Your lawyer would also represent you in court and make compelling arguments to help you secure the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one suffered from cancer misdiagnosis, taking the necessary legal action can be overwhelming, but investing in a skilled medical malpractice lawyer can help ease your worries.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Attorneys Today
Cancer leaves a heavy emotional and financial burden on you and your family. If your doctor misidentified your condition or you suspect a cancer misdiagnosis, seeking legal help is essential.
At The Pagan Law Firm, our team of skilled medical malpractice attorneys can help you build a compelling case to recover the compensation you deserve. Our team understands the gravity of the situation and works hard to ensure that justice is served.
Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers today and start building your case.