Can You Sue a Doctor For Not Diagnosing Cancer?
Depending on the circumstances of what happened and what led to the missed diagnosis, you may be able to sue a doctor for not diagnosing cancer. If you suffered disease progression or lost a loved one because of a missed cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible to pursue compensation by filing an insurance claim against the doctor or hospital or taking the case to trial.
The best way to find out if you can sue a doctor or hospital for not diagnosing cancer is to discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney who serves your area and is familiar with the laws in your state.
When Failure to Diagnose Constitutes Medical Malpractice
According to a 2013 study on malpractice claims in BMJ Open, missed or delayed diagnoses were the top causes of medical malpractice claims. The types of cancers most commonly mentioned in these claims include:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancers
- Cancers of the female genital tract
Not every case where a doctor fails to diagnose cancer will support a medical malpractice case. However, many claims will. If another doctor with similar training and experience working in the same area could have made the diagnosis, you could have a case to sue the doctor for not diagnosing cancer. Evidence of careless or negligent mistakes that prevented you from getting a diagnosis could also support legal action.
Causes of a Missed Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer misdiagnoses are more common than you realize and can cause serious harm. There are many reasons why a doctor may miss a cancer diagnosis, including:
- Failure to take adequate family history or get previous medical records
- Failure to perform all necessary tests
- Failure to read the test results accurately
- Failure to listen to all of a patient’s symptoms
- Allowing bias to sway the diagnosis, such as assuming someone is too young for a certain type of cancer or their weight is causing their symptoms
Errors in the lab, mix-ups of patient scans or test results, and other careless mistakes could also lead to a missed cancer diagnosis. The hospital or another medical care provider may be legally responsible in these cases.
Building a Medical Malpractice Case Against the Doctor or Hospital
You will likely want to work with a medical malpractice attorney to build a strong case to sue your doctor or hospital for not diagnosing cancer when you first went for help with your symptoms or as a part of your routine screenings.
These cases often rely on expert witness testimony. Some states even require plaintiffs to submit an affidavit from a medical expert saying medical negligence occurred before they will allow the case to proceed. Identifying and working with a medical expert witness and taking other steps to build a case is difficult, if not impossible, as an individual.
The medical expert witness, generally a doctor with similar experience in the same field as your doctor, will:
- Review your case and offer feedback on what went wrong
- Describe what would be the normal standard of care based on the facts of your case
- Help us understand when your medical care providers deviated from this standard of care
- Help us document everyone who played a role in your case
You will also need to obtain copies of your relevant medical records and other evidence of your missed diagnosis. This documentation could include medical imaging and clinical test results that could have confirmed your diagnosis when you first saw a doctor.
Lastly, you will need to confirm your losses and expenses related to your case. These losses could include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. A missed cancer diagnosis can have devastating effects. Depending on the type of cancer and how long it takes you to get an accurate diagnosis, the cancer can spread from a relatively small and treatable case to a much more serious condition.
Stage 1 cancer may require surgery or chemotherapy, while Stage 4 could require much more intense treatment, lead to severe pain, and decrease your quality of life. You could lose your life, or a loved one may have already passed away.
You May Have a Medical Malpractice Case Against the Doctor Who Missed Your Cancer Diagnosis
The medical malpractice attorneys from Newsome Melton can review your case for free and explain if you have a strong case for pursuing compensation. We will build a case, including enlisting the help of a medical expert, on your behalf. If you lost a loved one to cancer following a missed diagnosis, we may be able to help you take legal action in a wrongful death suit.
Call our team today at (888) 559-9133. We offer free, no-obligation initial consultations for the victims of medical malpractice cases.
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