Like many cancers, rectal cancer can be treatable if addressed early. But if it remains in your body undetected and progresses through the stages, it can become difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Getting an accurate diagnosis from your doctor can thus mean the difference, quite literally, between life and death. If your doctor misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose your rectal cancer, you might have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Newsome | Melton is a law firm that focuses on medical malpractice cases – in particular, those involving misdiagnoses. If you had or have rectal cancer and suffered complications because of a bad diagnosis by your doctor, a rectal cancer misdiagnosis lawyer may be able to help. We will fight to hold your doctor accountable and get you the compensation you deserve.
For a free consultation with a member of our team, call 800-916-7333.
Rectal Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors That Your Doctor Should Have Addressed
When you visit a doctor because you are not feeling well or have concerns about your health, your doctor has a duty to be on high alert for the possibility that your symptoms belie more than just a routine illness.
A doctor is the first line of defense between patients and potentially deadly medical conditions. By not putting the requisite standard of care into each patient encounter, a doctor puts his or her patients’ lives at risk.
This is particularly true when a patient visits a doctor with symptoms associated with a serious illness. The following are the signs and symptoms of rectal cancer which any doctor should be aware:
- Diarrhea, constipation, frequent bowel movements, or other changes in bowel function
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Narrow stool
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during bowel movements
- Incomplete emptying of bowels
- Unexplained weight loss
Aside from the many symptoms that could point to early-stage rectal cancer, the condition has several risk factors as well. If you have one or more of these factors, your chances of getting rectal cancer are higher than the average person. Thus, your doctor should be even quicker to order additional testing if you have symptoms.
The risk factors for rectal cancer are as follows:
- Age over 50
- African American descent
- History of rectal cancer, colon cancer, or polyps
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history
- Diet low in vegetables and high in red meat
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol use
- Radiation treatment from previous cancer
Since some of these risk factors involve genetics, others involve lifestyle, and still others involve your medical history, your doctor should ask probing questions to assess your risk. By failing to do so, your doctor could be shirking their duty of care to you as a physician.
The Newsome | Melton team builds a compelling medical malpractice case by showing that the four conditions needed for a doctor’s actions to constitute malpractice are all present in your case. These conditions are described in the following section.
The Criteria for a Successful Medical Malpractice Case for Misdiagnosis of Rectal Cancer
A rectal cancer misdiagnosis lawyer from Newsome | Melton may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We know how to build and present a successful medical malpractice case. It requires us to establish four criteria as true:
- Your physician owed you a duty of care.
- Your doctor did not uphold their duty of care to you.
- As a result of your doctor’s lack of care, you suffered harm.
- You incurred economic or non-economic damages from the harm you suffered.
Duty of Care
First, we must show that a duty of care existed. This duty exists when there is an active doctor-patient relationship. We show that you had this relationship with your doctor by collecting billing statements, insurance paperwork, and other documents indicating where your doctor accepted payment to provide you with medical services.
Breach of Duty
Once we have made it clear a duty of care existed, we can show how your doctor breached it. To show a breach of duty requires us to demonstrate that your doctor’s actions did not meet the level of care that would be expected of a reasonable person — a reasonable person being defined as another doctor faced with the same information.
Drawing on medical evidence and expert witness testimony, we show how another doctor would have made the proper diagnosis by ordering the right testing and follow-up evaluations of your condition.
Next, we will connect your doctor’s failure to uphold his or her duty of care, with the actual injury or harm you suffered. Most likely, your cancer stayed inside your body longer than it otherwise would have and probably grew or spread during that time. As a result, it became more difficult to treat and perhaps even caused you to have lasting adverse effects. We show how you could have avoided these issues had your doctor made the correct diagnosis.
The final step is to tie your injuries to the specific damages you incurred. These damages can be both economic (involving actual financial depletion) or non-economic (subjective losses such as pain and suffering). The settlements we win for our clients may include compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.
At Newsome | Melton, our medical malpractice attorneys take the outcome of your case as personally as you do. We fight aggressively for your rights and to hold the doctor liable whose negligent actions caused you to suffer harm. We offer a free case evaluation to determine exactly how we can help you.