If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient with cancer, the consequences can be life-threatening. Even a delayed diagnosis may be the difference between life and death.
If you or a family member have suffered because of a doctor’s incorrect or missed diagnosis of cancer, you may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. A cancer misdiagnosis lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys will review the details of your situation, answer your questions, and help you determine what to do next. Our medical malpractice lawyers have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and families who have suffered due to medical negligence. We have consistently been named among the Best Lawyers in America, and we have earned the highest client satisfaction ratings possible. To speak with a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer now, fill out our email form, or call us at (570) 338-4494. The consultation is free.
We have offices conveniently located in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Stroudsburg, and Carbondale.
Types of Cancer Misdiagnosis
There are different types of cancer misdiagnosis, but all of them can result in prolonged illness, harm to the patient, or, in the worst cases, wrongful death.
Delayed Diagnosis – A delayed diagnosis occurs when your doctor or medical professional fails to recognize cancer when the signs are present, either in the patient’s symptoms or in lab and imaging results. A delay in diagnosis can lead to a delay in treatment, allowing the cancer to become worse. This can cause avoidable pain and suffering for the patient, expensive and invasive treatments, and even premature death.
Failure to Diagnose – A failure to diagnose cancer occurs when a doctor entirely fails to identify cancer in a patient. Often, the cancer is not discovered until the patient is seen by another doctor or specialist, or until after the patient’s death. Another type of failure can occur if the doctor identifies the presence of cancer but fails to correctly assess its stage and seriousness.
False Diagnosis – A false diagnosis of cancer occurs when a doctor diagnoses a patient with cancer when in fact no cancer is present. Not only does this subject the patient to painful and unnecessary cancer treatments or risky surgeries, but it can also allow the true cause of their illness to go untreated.
Failure to Diagnose Cancer Costs Lives
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, many of us have experienced firsthand the toll that cancer takes on a person and their loved ones. One of the leading causes of death, cancer claims nearly 600,000 lives per year in the United States. A cancer diagnosis is one of the most difficult pieces of news a family can receive. However, early detection and treatment can dramatically improve patients’ chances of survival. In fact, many forms of cancer are treatable if they are detected at an early stage. Missed or delayed diagnosis, however, can allow the cancer to spread, leading to an increase in the patient’s suffering, requiring more aggressive treatment, and even lead to preventable death. Some of the most effective cancer treatments available can only be performed before the cancer reaches an advanced stage.
When a delay in diagnosis dramatically affects a patient’s prognosis, the doctor or medical professional can be held responsible for any damages that a patient suffers. A cancer misdiagnosis lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help get justice for your family, and ensure that you receive compensation for medical treatment, therapy, lost wages, diminished quality of life, and pain and suffering.
What Happens if You Were Misdiagnosed with Cancer?
While failure to diagnose cancer can be fatal, a false cancer diagnosis can also cause harm. Cancer misdiagnosis can occur when a doctor wrongly informs a patient that he/she has cancer. A false diagnosis can subject patients to unnecessary painful and expensive treatments. While sometimes necessary in order to attack cancerous cells, treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can cause permanent damage to someone who did not require them in the first place. Furthermore, receiving a false diagnosis can prevent treatment of your actual illness. In addition to the physical toll, cancer treatments come with an immense financial cost that may not be entirely covered by insurance. If you were falsely diagnosed with cancer and underwent unnecessary cancer treatments, you may have cause for a misdiagnosis lawsuit.
How Can Cancer Be Misdiagnosed?
Cancer misdiagnosis can come in multiple forms. Your doctor may have failed to diagnose your cancer; they may have diagnosed you with cancer when no cancer was present; or, they may have incorrectly misclassified a growth as either benign or malignant.
Potential causes of missed or delayed cancer diagnosis include:
- A cancerous lesion is missed in a biopsy
- A cancerous mass is diagnosed as non-cancerous
- A doctor fails to order proper testing such as an ultrasound, biopsy, mammogram, or colonoscopy
- A doctor fails to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist
- A cancerous tumor is incorrectly classified or incorrectly graded as to aggressiveness
- Specimens and tissue samples are improperly handled
- Healthcare providers fail to adequately screen high-risk patients and consider family history of cancer
- Doctors fail to understand or acknowledge a patient’s complaints
- Failure to correctly read or analyze diagnostic images
- A specialist fails to communicate test results to a patient and/or their primary care physician
Who is Responsible for Misdiagnosis of Cancer?
A number of different parties can be held liable for a misdiagnosis of cancer. In many cases, your doctor will bear primary responsibility, but several other medical professionals and entities can be sued for misdiagnosis as well.
These may include nurses, lab technicians, sonographers, surgeons, medical labs and clinics.
Doctors can also be held responsible for negligent conduct of physician assistants and other healthcare support staff who administer care under your doctor’s supervision.
Do I Have a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
The best way to find out if you have a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
Elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit
In order to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit after a misdiagnosis of cancer, the plaintiff must prove the following:
A doctor-patient relationship existed – The first thing you must demonstrate as a victim of medical negligence or malpractice is the existence of a doctor-patient relationship between you and the medical professional you wish to sue. This relationship can exist between you and a medical doctor or any other medical professional who was responsible for your care. Evidence of a doctor-patient relationship can usually be found in your medical records.
The doctor failed to uphold the standard of care – You must then be able to show that the doctor or medical professional failed to act within the standard of care in their profession. This might mean they failed to order appropriate tests, or failed to accurately interpret lab results, for example.
The doctor’s failure caused the patient to suffer injury or illness – You must show that you or your loved one suffered an adverse outcome as a direct result of the doctor’s action or inaction. For example, your cancer may have spread to another area of the body or progressed to an advanced stage because of the doctor’s misdiagnosis. You will need to show not only that you suffered harm, but that your suffering was caused by the doctor’s substandard care.
The patient suffered damages as a result – The damages in your case can include financial losses such as the medical bills for your treatment. They also include the pain and suffering you or your loved one endured because of the doctor’s negligence.
Proving all four of these elements can be difficult. This is why it is crucial to have an experienced cancer misdiagnosis lawyer handle your case. We review hundreds of medical malpractice cases every year. Our attorneys have seen thousands of negligence and medical malpractice cases through to a successful resolution and obtained maximum damages for our clients.
Damages in a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
If you suffered from a misdiagnosis of cancer, you may be entitled to several different types of damages. The exact amount awarded to you will depend on your unique circumstances. Most cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits involve both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include concrete financial losses such as hospital bills, prescription costs, specialist treatment, lost income, and other expenses you’ve incurred through no fault of your own. Non-economic damages, which often make up the bulk of a negligence claim, include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, altered quality of life, disfigurement and scarring, and emotional distress. While some states place a cap on compensatory damages, Pennsylvania does not. This means that Pennsylvania patients who suffered from cancer misdiagnosis can receive the full amount of compensation they deserve. In rare cases, medical malpractice can lead to punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the doctor or hospital for wrongdoing rather than to compensate the victim for their losses. Punitive damages would only apply in extreme cases of negligence or intentional harm.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is the Best Misdiagnosis Law Firm
An experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your claim and advise you about the best course of legal action. The family of lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are experienced and successful medical malpractice litigators — we fight to protect the rights of patients. With an in-house medical professional on staff, we will review your records carefully and explore every possible source of recovery.
Since 1959, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has been protecting the rights of vulnerable people within the civil justice system. Since then, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has become one of the most trusted names in personal injury law nationwide. Our attorneys have achieved record-breaking settlements and verdicts in even the most complex cases of negligence against powerful companies and hospital systems. The medical malpractice lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are board-certified civil trial advocates with decades of courtroom experience. We are prepared to bring your case to a jury trial if necessary – and we have the experience and resources to win.
Attorney Marion Munley has been named 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Some of the common cancer cases our attorneys have handled include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose:
- Bone cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Uterine cancer
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injury or death because of cancer misdiagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. A qualified cancer misdiagnosis lawyer will thoroughly examine your case to determine the best way to help you and your family. Please contact us at (570) 338-4494 or fill out our online contact form.
Cancer Misdiagnosis FAQs
Q: Is misdiagnosis of cancer always malpractice?
Be aware, a failure to diagnose cancer is not always the result of malpractice. Medicine is a complicated field. Even when doctors do everything they should in a timely manner, their patients can still suffer adverse outcomes. Under the law, doctors are not expected to be perfect, but they are required to uphold the standard of care in their profession.
There are some circumstances in which a failure to correctly diagnose cancer does not constitute malpractice. In some cases, rare illnesses can present in similar ways as more common ones. Cancer can mimic the symptoms of other illnesses and vice versa. Cancer may progress so rapidly that it becomes advanced by the time a patient complains of symptoms and undergoes testing. Or, a doctor’s delay in diagnosis may not always result in a change in the patient’s outcome.
The basis of whether a doctor acted negligently is not determined by the accuracy of their diagnosis, but by whether or not a reasonable doctor would have acted the same way under the same or similar circumstances. This is where a medical malpractice attorney can help. The lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys will review your medical records in detail and consult with medical doctors and expert witnesses to determine whether your doctor’s actions violated the standard of care.
Q: What is the standard of care?
The National Cancer Institute defines the standard of care as: “Treatment that is accepted by medical experts as a proper treatment for a certain type of disease and that is widely used by healthcare professionals. Also called best practice, standard medical care, and standard therapy.” The standard of care refers to the type and level of care another doctor in the same field with similar training would administer under similar circumstances. The standard of care is a crucial piece of your potential medical malpractice lawsuit. Your lawyer will hire an expert medical witness to testify as to what the professional standard of care was under the circumstances in your case, and whether your doctor’s actions deviated from that standard.
Q: What is the doctor-patient relationship?
A doctor-patient relationship is an agreement or acknowledgement that a medical professional shall bear responsibility for a patient’s medical care. The doctor-patient relationship is a kind of contract that holds the doctor or other caregiver legally responsible for providing quality care within the medical professional’s scope of practice. It involves a high level of trust on the part of the patient. This relationship is not limited to doctors, and can also apply to nurses, surgeons, lab technicians, and anyone else responsible for administering medical treatment. In most cases, the physician-patient relationship is established by mutual consent. In some special circumstances, a physician-patient relationship can be established without the explicit consent of the patient (or their surrogate if they are unable to consent themselves). These include:
- When a physician provides emergency care or provides care at the request of the patient’s treating physician.
- When a physician provides medical care for a prisoner under court order.
- When a physician examines a patient in the context of an independent medical examination. In such situations, a limited patient-physician relationship exists.
Q: Can I sue for being wrongly diagnosed with cancer?
Depending on the circumstances of your misdiagnosis, you may be able to sue the doctor or hospital responsible for your suffering. If you underwent unnecessary treatments, or delayed the treatment of your true illness, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. In order to have a successful lawsuit, you must be able to show that the doctor or medical professional responsible for your wrong diagnosis violated the standard of care in their profession. You will also need to show that you suffered – physically and/or financially – as a result of their wrong actions. As the victim of a wrong cancer diagnosis, it can be difficult to know the legal ramifications of your situation. This is where a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer can help. An attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can listen to your story, review your medical records with the help of a licensed physician, and advise you on how to proceed.
Q: What are the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer?
Cancer misdiagnosis happens more often than one might think. According to the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management, cancer misdiagnoses represented (46%) cases of primary care diagnostic errors. Among the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers are lymphoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine found that more than one in five cases of lung cancer are “meaningfully delayed.”
Q: How is cancer diagnosed?
Diagnosing cancer can be complicated. Depending on its location, type, and severity, it may not be immediately apparent. However, the medical community has made significant strides in early detection and treatment of many types of cancers. Routine screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies, pap tests, prostate exams, and breast exams can help catch possible signs of cancer at early stages. If a patient shows any abnormality during one of these screenings, or if the patient complains of symptoms, a doctor can order additional testing. These tests may include MRI, ultrasound, x-rays, CAT scans, blood tests, and biopsy of tissue samples. A doctor should also take into consideration a patient’s family history and risk factors when recommending screenings and ordering tests.
Q: What should I do if my loved one suffered from cancer misdiagnosis?
If your family member received a misdiagnosis or their doctor failed to make a correct cancer diagnosis, the outcome can be devastating. You and your family are likely to experience understandable outrage, emotional distress, mental anguish, and crippling medical bills. In order to hold the negligent parties responsible, you will need to supply as much documentation as possible showing the sequence of events that lead to this outcome. To know whether or not you have a legal case and how you can proceed, contact a cancer misdiagnosis attorney. The consultation is free and confidential, and can give you a wealth of information as well as peace of mind. If the attorney advises you to move forward with legal action, you may then sign a contract allowing the attorney to act on your behalf. From this point forward, you will have a team of experts and board-certified civil trial advocates working for you to obtain all necessary information and prove your claim.
Q: How much time do I have to file a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit?
Each state has a statute of limitations dictating how much time a victim has to file a lawsuit against another person or entity. In Pennsylvania, for example, the statute of limitations for negligence cases is usually two years from the date of injury. However, in cases of misdiagnosis, the victim typically doesn’t know that a medical error has occurred until some time later, even years after the fact. In cases like this, you have two years from the date you knew (or should have known) that a diagnosis error had taken place to file a lawsuit. In so doing, you will need to clearly demonstrate that you did not know about the medical error any sooner than you claim. The best way to protect yourself and fully understand your rights is to contact a cancer misdiagnosis attorney as early as possible.