If you, your child, or your loved one developed leukemia and your doctor failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed it, you could qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Leukemia represents one of the most common forms of cancer, particularly in children, and doctors have a duty of care to screen for it and take steps to rule it out when patients present known symptoms and risk factors. Failure to do so can lead to severe complications and even death. If this happened to you, a leukemia misdiagnosis lawyer can help you go after compensation for your damages.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Medical Malpractice Help fight for the rights of patients injured due to doctor negligence. We can help you pursue the fair compensation you deserve for your doctor’s misdiagnosis of leukemia. To schedule a free case evaluation, call 800-916-7333 today.
Diagnosing the Different Forms of Leukemia
There are many forms of leukemia. Each has its own symptoms, causes, risk factors, and prognoses. Doctors must remain alert for this type of cancer, as failure to diagnose it promptly can lead to severe complications and even mean the difference between life and death for a patient.
Here are some of the major forms of leukemia.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
This is a common form of leukemia in children, but rarer in adults. It forms in the bone marrow where blood cells are made.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
This form of the disease is most often found in seniors.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
A common form of leukemia accounting for one-third of cases, CLL forms in white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
This form of leukemia starts in the bone marrow cells that form blood and can spread through the bloodstream.
Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML)
Like CML, CMML starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. CMML affects mostly older adults.
Acute leukemias progress quickly once they form. By contrast, chronic leukemias develop much more slowly. While any misdiagnosis could be considered medical malpractice, the situation becomes dire when a physician fails to catch acute leukemia in time. These cancers can ravage a patient’s body in months or even weeks.
Symptoms of Leukemia
A proper diagnosis requires a keen familiarity with the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with a given disease. Leukemia is no exception. Given that the disease is neither rare nor obscure, doctors have no valid excuse for failing to stay up to date on diagnostic techniques or for not running tests immediately as symptoms develop.
Some of the more common symptoms of leukemia are:
- Weakness or fatigue;
- Unexplained infections;
- Unintentional weight loss;
- Enlarged lymph nodes, liver, or spleen;
- Easy bruising;
- Small red dots or bumps on the skin;
- Night sweats; and
- Tender bones.
How Doctors Normally Diagnose Leukemia
If you have signs or symptoms associated with any of the forms of leukemia, your doctor should investigate further to rule out the disease. This investigation usually includes the following diagnostic methods.
A Physical Exam
During this exam, your doctor is looking for physical evidence that might point to the presence of leukemia, such as swollen lymph nodes, pale skin, unexplained bruises, or an enlarged liver or spleen.
Even the smallest suspicion of leukemia or any other cancer warrants a blood test, and the failure to order one could constitute negligence. An elevated white blood cell or platelet count can suggest leukemia.
Bone Marrow Tests
If a physical exam or blood test raises the suspicion of leukemia, the next step is a bone marrow test. To conduct this test, a doctor draws marrow from the hipbone and sends it to a lab to look for cancerous cells.
Why Leukemia Misdiagnoses Occur
When a doctor misdiagnoses leukemia, it is usually for one or more of several reasons. A misdiagnosis can happen if the doctor:
- Failed to listen to the patient;
- Failed to further investigate certain symptoms;
- Failed to order the correct lab tests or examinations;
- Failed to interpret the result of a lab test or examination correctly; or
- Mixed up or lost the patient’s file.
If your doctor did not diagnose your leukemia or any of these reasons or due to another mistake, you might be able to recover compensation for your resulting losses and expenses.
Winning Compensation From a Doctor Who Misdiagnosed or Failed to Diagnose Leukemia
To win compensation in a leukemia misdiagnosis case, we must pursue a medical malpractice claim against that physician. A successful claim must prove four conditions to be true.
Your Doctor Had a Duty of Care.
A duty of care is the responsibility a doctor has to a patient. If you had an established doctor-patient relationship, your doctor owed you a minimum level of care. By showing that such a relationship existed, we can prove that your doctor had a duty of care to you.
Your Doctor Breached That Duty.
For medical malpractice to have occurred, your doctor must have breached their duty of care. We show a breach of duty by establishing that your doctor did not meet the “reasonable person” standard, meaning their actions did not live up to what a reasonable doctor in the same situation would have done.
Your Doctor’s Breach Resulted in Injuries.
To prove medical malpractice, we must draw a conclusive link between your doctor’s breach of duty and specific injuries you suffered as a result. If you had to undergo more expensive or invasive treatment, you missed additional work due to a longer recovery time, or you experienced additional pain and discomfort, your case meets this requirement.
Your Injuries Resulted in Economic or Non-Economic Damages.
We have to list economic or non-economic damages that you incurred because of your injuries. Economic damages include things like medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and emotional anguish.