Tampa Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney
Doctors are human and make mistakes, and not every error means they committed medical malpractice. But when a doctor fails to perform according to the standard of care and competence expected, or when a hospital puts profits ahead of medicine, then those doctors and hospitals can and should be held accountable for any harm caused by their medical negligence or misconduct.
A cancer misdiagnosis is an area where unforgivable mistakes that shouldn’t happen often occur with disastrous results. If you or a family member suffered from a cancer misdiagnosis in Tampa, the medical malpractice team at Greco & Wozniak, P.A. is here to find out what happened and hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and the tragic harm they have caused.
When is a misdiagnosis of cancer malpractice?
Diagnosis is not an exact science, and not everybody gets screened for every possible cancer. But screenings must be done as recommended by the scientific community, and tests should be ordered and conducted when indicated by the patient’s symptoms. When tests are conducted, they must be performed properly with up-to-date, working equipment, and they must be interpreted accurately by the doctors, lab technicians, or other staff members charged with reading the results. When these things don’t happen as they should, a cancer diagnosis can be missed, a person can be diagnosed with cancer that they don’t have, a malignant tumor can be misdiagnosed as benign, or a doctor could misgrade how aggressive a tumor is.
The decision not to test, the improper conduct of a test, or the misinterpretation of a test could all lead to a missed or misdiagnosis of cancer. Whether a misdiagnosis was reasonable or negligent depends on the applicable medical standard – what would another doctor in the same field have done with the same information? Answering this question can require the testimony of a medical expert who can testify what the applicable standard was in a given situation and give an opinion whether that standard was met or not, and whether a failure led to further injury.
Commonly misdiagnosed cancers
Below are some of the most frequently occurring and commonly misdiagnosed forms of cancer. Sadly, these are cancers that are fully treatable when caught early but can be fatal if missed or misdiagnosed.
Early and often breast cancer screening was once seen as the key to catching this terrible cancer at its earliest stages and saving lives. But as more and more mammograms were performed, it became public just how widely variable results can be depending on factors such as screening sensitivity. Radiology provider DocPanel reports that “51% of breast imaging second opinions result in a big change of interpretation.” The result of a breast cancer misdiagnosis can include an unnecessary aggressive strategy of chemotherapy, radiation and radical surgery based on false data, to missing cancer that spreads and becomes terminal.
When a doctor orders a mammogram for a patient, the patient is often sent to another facility for the actual testing. The test results might then be sent somewhere else for interpretation. The failure of a lab to communicate accurate test results, or the failure of the treating physician to follow up on test results in a timely manner, can cause needless misery and suffering that could have been avoided by practicing medicine according to the appropriate standard of care.
Many symptoms and risk factors can indicate that a lung x-ray would be prudent to screen for lung cancer. Failure to order an x-ray when indicated can prove harmful or fatal. When x-rays are ordered, they are sometimes misread by the radiologist or the doctor who ordered the test. Mistakes can also be made when analyzing tissue samples from a biopsy.
Patients who present with symptoms of lung cancer are often misdiagnosed with something far less severe such as an upper respiratory infection, pneumonia, asthma, COPD or acid reflux. Likewise, a patient could in fact have some other condition that is misdiagnosed as lung cancer, and the resulting treatment for a nonexistent disease itself causes great harm.
Lung cancer is responsible for the most cancer deaths in the United States, and it is also among the top three most misdiagnosed cancers. Prompt and accurate diagnoses are crucial to preventing needless pain and suffering from this deadly disease.
Current science recommends screening everyone for colon cancer starting at age 50, or earlier for some people with a family history of colon cancer or who have had colon polyps. According to the Annals of Gastroenterology, “while screening improves survival, avoiding delayed diagnosis in symptomatic patients is crucial.” Physicians should not assume it is too early to order a screen based solely on a patient’s age without assessing other risk factors. Failing to consider individual patient factors puts the patient’s life at risk from a delayed diagnosis.
PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening is commonly conducted in men beginning in their 40s or 50s, yet modern science today is leaning toward not screening healthy men. PSA screening turns up a large number of false positives, leading to unnecessary and invasive biopsies. Cancer cells may be found in the biopsy, leading to radical treatment including radiation and the surgical removal of the prostate. These methods often lead to permanent impotence and incontinence, while in reality the cancer might never have progressed to a stage where it would cause harm. Especially when discovered in older men, it is possible that a slowly progressing prostate cancer will not be their cause of death even if left untreated.
What are doctors to do? Risk harm from screening or harm from a missed early diagnosis? Any case of prostate cancer misdiagnosis needs to be reviewed by a qualified expert who can determine whether proper procedures were followed given the individual patient’s medical history, risk factors and other issues unique to the patient.
Misdiagnosis of cancer that isn’t there
Sometimes a patient gets wrongly diagnosed with terminal cancer when actually the tumor is benign or there is no tumor at all. While ultimately this is good news for the patient’s health, these misdiagnoses have caused very serious harm in the meantime. Patients have suffered severe depression after (erroneously) learning they have a terminal disease. Some have quit their job or spent their life savings, and some have contemplated suicide as an alternative to dying from cancer.
If we can prove that the doctor or medical professional responsible for the error failed to perform according to the prevailing professional standard of care and that this breach caused you to suffer an injury, then we should be able to achieve a settlement or judgment that compensates you for the harm inflicted on you.
Talk to an Attorney at Greco & Wozniak About a Cancer Misdiagnosis Error in Tampa
If you or a loved one suffered as a victim of a cancer misdiagnosis by a negligent doctor or radiologist, call Greco & Wozniak, P.A. to review your case with an experienced and successful Tampa medical malpractice lawyer.