In the fight against cancer, receiving expert medical attention is absolutely crucial. Even more important is being given an accurate diagnosis in the first place.
But every year, thousands of Americans are misdiagnosed with cancers that they don’t actually have. Other patients are subjected to inappropriate, debilitating treatments, because one form of cancer has been mistaken for another. Some find only too late that they have cancers that have progressed to an almost untreatable stage.
Many diagnostic errors are unjustifiable, an insult to the trust we put in medical professionals every day. And when these mistakes are the result of medical negligence, patients and families who have been traumatized have the right to file civil lawsuits.
Misdiagnosed Cancer: Common, Avoidable & Devastating
Numerous studies have investigated the prevalence of errors in diagnosing cancer. In hospitals and out-patient cancer centers, patients across the nation become victim to preventable lapses in judgment at alarming rates.
But one thing researchers fail to address is the cost an inaccurate or delayed diagnoses can exact on patients. Families often come to bear the burden of exorbitant, unnecessary medical expenses, while their loved ones suffer through the severe pain caused by inappropriate treatment methods.
Emotional distress, fear and anxiety become ordinary, an affliction felt every day and borne equally by loved ones and patients alike. Many misdiagnosed cancer patients are consumed by anger and frustration, if they ever even learn the truth.
That anger is often entirely justified.
Is Cancer Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
In many cases, yes.
In fact, misdiagnosis is the leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits in the US.
Standards Of Care Are Critical
Delayed or incorrect diagnoses can make the difference between hopeful and poor prognoses. That’s not hyperbole: survival rates are universally higher when tumors are diagnosed early and treated effectively.
Which means that oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and general practitioners, the very people we turn to for their knowledge, care and compassion, serve as our best line of defense against a late-stage disease and years of agonizing treatment.
Oncologists & Pathologists Have A Duty Of Care
Cancer is often hard to properly identify. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have effective methods for distinguishing between the real tumors and other conditions.
At the turn of the 20th century, surgical intervention was the only option that offered hope to cancer patients. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) took the lead, developing a set of standards for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
While our growing understanding of malignancy has led to the discovery of numerous non-surgical treatments, the ACS continues to update its pioneering standards, which serve as clear guidelines for catching tumors quickly.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits
Our increased knowledge also tells us that different cancers should be treated differently. The standard of care for breast cancer is different from that for lymphoma.
Which type of cancer you were misdiagnosed with may affect the particular standard of care, but it doesn’t change your fundamental rights as a patient.
To learn more about your own misdiagnosis, follow one of the links below:
It’s a medical professional’s highest obligation to understand these standards, even as they change, and put them into practice for the benefit of each patient.
Doctors who deviate, or disregard, their field’s current standard of care can be held liable for the suffering their negligence has caused. Deviations from the standard of care serve as the bedrock for every successful cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.
How Common Is Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Very common, although finding out how common exactly has been difficult.
In 2014, a landmark study estimated that 12 million US patients are misdiagnosed annually. The media grabbed onto that number and started spreading it with few qualifications, suggesting that as many as 5% of patients will receive an inaccurate diagnosis during a given year. But there’s a problem with that number: it’s probably too low. The study CBS, Forbes and NBC had been circulating only looked into misdiagnoses that affected outpatients. People who were misdiagnosed during hospital stays weren’t counted at all.
In short, we know that misdiagnosis is a huge problem, but getting an accurate read on how huge is another story, a story you can learn more about in our infographic by clicking the button below:
Medical professionals make mistakes all the time. As many as 20% of all medical diagnoses are plain wrong, reports the New York Times. And even more troubling? The rate of serious misdiagnoses hasn’t changed since the 1930’s. In the realm of oncology, the most comprehensive study we have suggests the rate of cancer misdiagnosis may be upwards of 28%, unacceptably high by any standard.
Diagnostic errors often have very real, very damaging effects. In 1991, researchers at Harvard found that 8% of all injuries suffered by patients in New York hospitals were due to misdiagnoses. But almost 77% of those incorrect diagnostic results were caused by medical negligence. In other words, the majority of malignancies left undiagnosed may be the result of perfectly avoidable diagnostic errors.
Contact Our Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers
When medical professionals fail to honor their obligation to “do no harm,” the experienced attorneys at Marciano & MacAvoy help patients pursue justice.
In over 30 years of combined trial experience, our misdiagnosed cancer lawyers have amassed an impressive record of success:
Now we want to seek justice for you and your family. Were you or a loved one:
- diagnosed with a non-existent cancer?
- inaccurately diagnosed with a non-cancerous illness?
- diagnosed with the wrong type of cancer?
If so, you may be eligible to file a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Contact Marciano & MacAvoy today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case at no charge, discuss your legal options and let you know if we can help. Our services always come on a contingency-fee basis: you pay nothing until we win a court award or settlement in your favor.
Medical Negligence News & Updates
By Kevin Marciano, Esq.
October 10, 2018 – Injured Veteran Fights For VA Responsibility In Medical Malpractice Claims
Brian Tally was misdiagnosed three times by nurses and doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Despite his severe injuries, including extensive neurological damage in his spine, Tally found his way to the court blocked by a federal law that limits the federal government’s liability in cases of negligence. Tally was treated by an independent contractor, not an employee of the VA, so he was left with few options. But Tally isn’t taking his struggles lying down. Joined by his family, Tally is fighting to enact new legislation – the Tally bill – that would force the government to take responsibility for mistakes made by VA doctors. To learn more about the story, click here.
September 21, 2018 – New Mexico Jury Awards $73 Million In Birth Injury Brain Damage Case
Jurors for a New Mexico state court have awarded over $73 million in birth injury damages to a mother and child. In her lawsuit, the mother accused doctor / obstetrician Jerry McLaughlin, who passed away in 2017, of providing negligent medical treatment during her high-risk birth in 2013.
Court documents submitted prior to trial indicate that McLaughlin failed to properly evaluate the unborn child’s weight. The baby was born at 11.5 pounds, while McLaughlin, despite the mother’s pregnancy being classified as high-risk due to her age and a diabetes diagnosis, had listed the child’s weight at 8 pounds. Attorneys for the family say McLaughlin should have immediately ordered a cesarean section. Instead, the obstetrician opted for a vaginal delivery.
The child, court documents report, became lodged in the birth canal and lost his supply of oxygen for nearly 10 minutes. He suffered brain damage as a result. Jurors in the case found McLaughlin and the late doctor’s employer, a medical clinic called Pecos Valley of New Mexico LLC, liable for the child’s injuries, awarding a total of $73.2 million in compensation. To find more on the case, follow this link.
August 24, 2018 – Connecticut Prison System Settles $1.3M Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Connecticut’s Department of Corrections has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for $1.3 million. Wayne World, a former inmate, argues that his case of subcutaneous lymphoma was treated as psoriasis for nearly 3 years. The prison system currently faces at least 8 wrongful death claims, filed by families who argue that their loved one’s received inadequate medical care. An independent audit of recent medical errors in the prisons found evidence of a pattern of “medical indifference.” Many critics believe the Connecticut Department of Corrections could face a wave of medical malpractice litigation in the near future. To learn more about the story, click here.
July 20, 2018 – Michigan Girl Left Paralyzed After Scoliosis Surgery Wins $135 Million
A 17-year-old Michigan girl who was left partially paralyzed by a botched spinal surgery has won $135 million in her court trial. Dr. Eric Jones and the Detroit Medical Center were negligent, the jury concluded after two weeks of trial, in performing a growing rod implantation procedure in 2011. As jurors heard in court, the doctor had incorrectly implanted the rods, which are designed to keep the spine straight in severe cases of scoliosis. Instead of straightening the spine, the growing rods compressed it, leaving the young girl without control over her limbs. To find more on the case, click here.
June 19, 2018 – Iowa State Jury Grants Family $29.5M In Compensation For Mother’s Malpractice Death
A family in Iowa has secured $29.5 million in damages for the death of their wife and mother, who passed on after suffering a severe allergic reaction to the contrast dye commonly used to accentuate CT and x-ray scans. At trial, the family was able to demonstrate that Dr. Roy Slice, a physician at Sioux Center Community Health, was negligent in failing to administer the woman an epinephrine shot. To learn more about the case, follow this link.
May 11, 2018 – New Jersey Man Secures $2.25M In Spinal Fusion Malpractice Trial
A New Jersey man has recovered $2.25 million in compensation for injuries he suffered due to an allegedly botched spinal surgery. In a verdict handed down on April 6, 2018, a jury for the New Jersey Superior Court agreed with plaintiff’s arguments that his two surgeons, Dr. Marvin Friedlander and Dr. Douglas Bradley, were liable for implanting a spinal fusion screw in the wrong location. Additionally, Dr. Friedlander was held accountable for failing to pick up on the mistake until nearly 2 years after the initial procedure.
The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $4.5 million but, due to a high-low agreement brokered after closing arguments, the judgment has been reduced to $2.25 million, a sum to be split equally between Friedlander and Bradley. To find more on the case, click here.
April 3, 2018 – Philadelphia Laser Spine Institute Responsible For Woman’s Painkiller Death, Jury Finds
The Philadelphia Laser Spine Institute, along with one of its anesthesiologists, has been ordered to pay $20 million compensation to the estate of an Ohio woman who died after undergoing spinal surgery for her chronic back pain. On March 28, 2018, a jury in Pennsylvania’s Chester County court ruled that the minimally-invasive spinal surgery center had been negligent in administering the patient narcotics. She received six-times the amount of painkillers she had been ordered, attorneys for her estate say, but was discharged only two hours after her procedure. The Laser Spine Institute has locations in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Tampa, Scottsdale, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and St. Louis. To learn more about the case, check out our post here.
March 9, 2018 – Federal Malpractice Database Rarely Used In Medical License Renewal Decisions
A new investigative report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Medscape has found that few state medical boards are making use of the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal database of malpractice judgments and penalties assessed against physicians. At least 13 states didn’t submit any queries to the database in 2017, despite having renewed thousands of medical licenses that year. To learn more about the story, click here.
February 15, 2018 – Spinal Cord Birth Injury Lawsuit Ends In $40 Million Verdict
A 6-year-old Pennsylvania girl has won $40 million in damages against the hospital where she suffered a severe spinal cord injury during birth. In their lawsuit, the child’s family accused Dr. Steven Troy, an obstetrician at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, of using “excessive force” during a medically-unnecessary intervention. To find more on the case, follow this link.
January 3, 2018 – Georgia Hospital Ordered To Pay $26 Million In Surgical Malpractice Case
A Georgia woman left with permanent brain damage secured $26 million in damages on December 11, 2017, after a state court jury found sufficient evidence that an admitting physician at St. Francis Hospital failed to evaluate her condition for over six hours. To learn more about the verdict, which may be one of the largest in Georgia’s history, click here.
December 20, 2017 – Wisconsin Considers “Black Box” Operating Room Cameras
Wisconsin’s State Congress is thinking about putting cameras into hospital operating rooms. The proposal, named Julie’s Law after a woman who died after a botched cosmetic surgery, is being sold as a way to clear up the disputed facts in medical malpractice claims. For more on the law, follow this link.
November 1, 2017 – Long-Term Aspirin Use Reduces Cancer Risk, Study Finds
A new study suggests that taking aspirin can reduce the risk for five common cancers of the gastrointestinal system. Following 600,000 people in Hong Kong for a total of ten years, a team of researchers found that patients who took aspirin for at least six months were less likely to develop liver, esophageal, pancreatic, colorectal and gastric cancers than people who didn’t take aspirin. To read more about the research, check out this story in Forbes.
October 4, 2017 – Google Medical Information Leads To False Colon Cancer Scare
In a new article, a Philly Inquirer tells the story of how a simple Google search led to a colon cancer scare. Cyberchondria is growing across the nation, as more and more people turn to the internet for their medical information. Like hypochondria, the psychological disorder in which a person worries excessively about non-existent medical conditions, cyberchondria can lead to outsized anxiety about minor health issues. To learn more about the issue, click here.
February 24, 2016- California Woman’s Tattoo Ink Mistaken For Cancer On Body Scan
A 32-year-old California woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer was believed to have more tumors when the ink from her tattoos was mistaken for the disease on a body scan. Only after surgery did doctors notice that the lymph nodes absorbed some of the ink from over 14 tattoos that covered her legs and thighs. The tattoo ink appeared as cancer on the scan. Her lymph nodes lit up leading doctors to think her cancer had spread.
January 20, 2016- Actress Sues NY Gynecologist For $50 Million After A Misdiagnosis
Actress Mihaela Mihut, is suing her gynecologist for a misdiagnosis of her profuse bleeding, which she was told was due to old age, cysts, and ovarian cancer. The real cause of her bleeding was actually an ectopic pregnancy. By the time this was realized it was already too late as she had undergone radiation therapy. Manhattan based Dr. Neena Agarwala is being sued by the 44 year-old actress for taking away her ability to have children, due to the misdiagnosis, among other grievances.