Breast Cancer affects thousands of woman and their families every day. The effects of breast cancer can be especially devastating when a health care provider fails to properly diagnose a patient.
Failure to diagnose breast cancer accounts for about 40 percent of all medical malpractice suits filed. Many of the top lawsuits settled (over 1 million dollars) involved medical malpractice where a physician failed to identify, in a timely manner, a serious case of breast cancer.
What is failure to Diagnose?
Failure to diagnose, as it is known in the medical and legal communities, is a form of medical malpractice, which is the negligent or incorrect performance of the professional duties of health care providers and institutions. In general, there are four prerequisites for a valid claim of medical malpractice:
1) A provider-patient relationship existed;
2) Negligent care was rendered;
3) the patient suffered damage or harm;
4) and the damage or harm done to the patient was a direct result of the negligent care.
Why is Failure to diagnose so common?
The reason may be a preconception among the medical community that only older woman with a family history of breast cancer are at risk. A recent study lists the following as the top reasons why doctors misdiagnose breast cancer.
1) Doctors relying too much on a woman's age as a predicting factor for breast cancer.
2) Doctors relying too heavily on negative mammogram results, even if the woman has felt a lump.
3) Doctors who don't take woman seriously when they complain of symptoms.
Early Detection is Key
Regular testing for breast cancer is the best way to spot early signs and greatly improve your chances for a full recovery. This is best achieved through monthly self exams as well as regular mammograms.
The clinical stage of breast cancer is the best indicator for prognosis (possible outcome). Five-year survival rates for individuals with breast cancer who receive appropriate treatment are approximately:
85% for Stage I
66% for Stage II
41% for Stage III
10% for Stage IV
Sometimes, not all cancers are diagnosed in time, greatly reducing the chances of a recovery.
What Should You do?
Misdiagnosis is not always malpractice, but you owe it to yourself and your family to know for sure. Contact us and our attorneys will help you determine whether Misdiagnosis has occurred and the viability of your case.