More and more, our lives are ruled by structure, deadline and efficiency. In healthcare, these modern principles of professionalism can have devastating consequences. Far too often, patients who need attention and care don’t get it.
Cancer misdiagnosis is rampant. Every year, more than 12 million Americans receive inaccurate diagnoses. Some have their symptoms dismissed, while vital tests that could identify their true condition go unperformed. Others learn too late that a fatal tumor was confused for benign growth and allowed to spread.
Misdiagnosis Of Cancer Attorneys In Philadelphia
At Marciano & MacAvoy, our cancer misdiagnosis lawyers are devoted to fighting for the rights of patients throughout Pennsylvania. Success is our only goal, and maximum compensation our only aim. With every case, we seek to build the path toward a bright future for our clients and their families.
It’s our experience that makes the difference. Over nearly three decades of combined trial practice, our personal injury attorneys have secured tens of millions of dollars for the people who need it. Many of our most successful cases have held medical professionals accountable for their negligence:
- Failure To Treat
- 57-year-old patient sustained severe leg injuries after a cardiothoracic surgeon in Philadelphia delayed her needed surgery by one day.
- Jury verdict in a Philadelphia court for more than $1 million secured to cover her lost wages, medical expenses, disfigurement and pain and suffering.
- Failure To Diagnose
- 26-year-old patient with unexplained flu-like symptoms sent home without treatment. She later fell into a coma and died.
- Compensation recovered from a Delaware County ER doctor and Philadelphia hospital. $2.5 million went to support her three children and surviving husband.
- Failure To Diagnose
- 59-year-old patient was referred to an imaging center, but the radiologist failed to diagnose her ovarian cancer. She only learned a year later.
- We secured an undisclosed settlement to compensate her for the agonies of ongoing chemotherapy treatment and lost wages.
Can I Sue For Misdiagnosis?
We speak to hundreds of people who were harmed by medical malpractice every year. Many have been:
But few truly understand their range of legal options.
Some mistakes aren’t innocent, and they’re far from benign. If you or a loved one were misdiagnosed, you know it implicitly: the consequences of a cancer misdiagnosis can be horrifying.
Patients are routinely:
- subjected to ineffective, agonizing treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy for a cancer they don’t actually have.
- inaccurately diagnosed with a benign condition as an undiscovered malignancy metastasizes to other organ systems.
- diagnosed with cancer only too late, after years of diagnostic tests that were misread, improperly conducted or never sent to a specialist.
Beyond the sheer physical and emotional trauma caused by a medical professional’s error, misdiagnoses have devastating effects financially. Whether effective or futile, any course of medical treatment is going to be expensive. But cancer therapies are especially costly.
We believe the cost, damage and anguish caused by a wrong diagnosis aren’t things you should have to bear alone. You may be the victim of medical negligence, and have every right to file a misdiagnosis lawsuit against the physician, oncologist or diagnostic technician whose careless lack of regard led to your suffering.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
As a society, we rarely face up to the fact that doctors make mistakes. Instead, we tend to idealize medical professionals.
Highly-trained and extensively-educated, a physician’s role as unerring authority has come to overshadow reality. But these people are human, too.
In every profession, a rigorous standard must be upheld. When we turn to our doctors, we expect them to follow the best practices developed within their industry. After all, it’s a matter of life and death.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, we’ll turn to an expert’s thorough understanding to find out what a reasonable doctor with similar experience and education would have done under the same circumstances. That defines the “standard,” and allows us to understand what a violation of the standard looks like.
Four Examples Of Medical Negligence
In many cases, doctor negligence comes down to intuitive principles of acceptable care. Here are four examples:
- when general practitioners fail to refer a patient with troubling symptoms to a specialist
- when a doctor dismisses a patient’s concerns and symptoms, opting for the “simpler” diagnosis of a benign condition
- when physicians fail to order additional tests to rule out other possible conditions
- when lack of communication between multiple practitioners leads to a delayed diagnosis
In any case, medical negligence deprives patients of the crucial treatments they so desperately need, shortening lives and burdening families. We think that’s intolerable.
Learn More About Filing A Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
We don’t expect you to know whether or not your own misdiagnosis was the result of medical negligence. That’s what our rigorous investigation process is meant to discover. But if you were misdiagnosed, with cancer or a benign condition, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to explore the possibility.
Marciano & MacAvoy is led by its two Partners, Kevin Marciano, Esq. and Patrick MacAvoy, Esq. We both began our legal careers at “big name” law firms in the Philadelphia area. But we quickly realized that the ranks of associates and bureaucrats were standing in the way of what really mattered: the people we want to help.
If you think you deserve better care, and personal attention, contact our cancer misdiagnosis lawyers today. You can learn more about your legal options in a free consultation. Our services are offered with no up-front costs, too. The attorneys at Marciano & MacAvoy always work on a contingency-fee basis, so you owe nothing until we win a court award or settlement in your favor.
Latest Cancer Misdiagnosis & Medical Malpractice Updates
By Kevin R. Marciano
March 23, 2017 – Hospitals Miss Out On Half Of Medical Errors Reported By Families
Patients, along with their families, should be included in the medical error reporting process, according to a new study from physicians at Harvard Medical School and Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
In a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors compared the number of medical errors reported by families to the accuracy of reports compiled by physicians and hospital systems, which usually don’t include input from parents and caregivers. Following the families of 717 pediatric patients who had been hospitalized, the researchers received 225 reports of medical errors from parents. However, nearly 50% of these medical errors had not been included in the hospital’s medical records, suggesting a significant disparity between what families and hospitals know about patients.
March 13, 2017 – Kentucky Senate Clears Medical Review Panel Bill For Governor’s Signature
Kentucky’s Senate has approved a bill to reform the State’s medical malpractice system. Senate Bill 4 hopes to establish a system of medical review panels, comprised of doctors and attorneys, which will analyze all negligence claims involving healthcare professionals or medical institutions before the lawsuit can be filed in court. The law will now head to the desk of Republican Governor Matt Bevin, who is expected to add his signature to the legislation.
The law previously passed Kentucky’s House by a narrow margin, 51 to 45, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports, with 11 Republican representatives joining the opposition.
February 16, 2017 – Rude Surgeons Experience More Post-Op Complications, Researchers Say
Turns out nice doctors may also be better at reducing avoidable forms of patient harm. A new study from Vanderbilt University has show that surgeons with a history of rude and disrespectful behavior (as reported by patients and their families) are more likely to leave patients with surgical site infections, pneumonia, stroke and other preventable complications.
The most impolite physicians appeared to increase the rate of surgical complications by 14% when compared to their well-mannered peers. The researchers say that rudeness, especially in the operating room, can lead to breakdowns in communication, lowering surgical team morale and preventing co-workers from speaking up about potential problems.
January 16, 2017 – Post-Surgical Opiates May Be Killing Patients
After undergoing successful surgeries, patients recovering in low-risk (and thus low-surveillance) hospital floors are dying at “concerning” rates, according to a new investigation from Cleveland’s ABC News affiliate. To explain the “Dead in Bed” phenomena, Cleveland’s News 5 points to the widespread use of opiod painkillers, which can overpower the respiratory system and deny the brain oxygen. Over the last decade, an estimated 50,000 patients have been affected, often suffering brain injuries or death.
The solution? Dr. Daniel Sessler, researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, suggests implementing continuous electronic oxygen monitoring for “nearly all” postoperative inpatients. Few hospitals in the United States currently employ continuous monitoring technology, even though it is readily available.
December 9, 2016 – Malpractice Lawsuits May Actually Increase Healthcare Innovation, Harvard Researchers Say
Critics often denounce medical malpractice litigation as a key driver of “defensive medicine,” the idea that, in an attempt to reduce their own liability for patient injuries, doctors order far more diagnostic tests and procedures than are necessary. In an editorial for Forbes, experts at Harvard Business School (HBS) argue that medical malpractice lawsuits may have an unintended side effect, one that’s certainly to the benefit of patients: making medical devices safer.
When doctors act “defensively,” taking more test results into account and performing pro-active procedures, their efforts don’t just affect the lives of patients. In addition, defensive medicine places pressure on medical device manufacturers to innovate, creating newer and safer devices to keep physicians out of a lawsuit’s cross-hairs. As Hong Luo, an assistant professor in the Strategy Unit at HBS, says:
“When physicians are under pressure from high liability, innovators are incentivized to product safer products to help them manage risk.”
Luo’s crunched the numbers on these relationships and found some astonishing results. When a state passes laws to limit the amount of damages people can recover in a malpractice lawsuit, the number of patents for new medical devices filed in that state drop, on average, by 14%. As you could expect, patent filings were most likely drop in risky areas of medical practice, like orthopedics and surgery.
Alberto Galasso, one of Luo’s research partners, had this to say: “one normal view shaping the political discussion is that you need tort reform because these lawsuits are slowing down innovation. Our key findings based on 20 years of medical device patents is that there is no evidence of that.”
November 18, 2016 – Chinese Scientists Use Crispr-Edited Cells To Treat Cancer
Chinese researchers have become the first to use a radical new gene-editing technology in human patients, Wired reports. The new tool, known as Crispr (short for “Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”), involves using viruses to make precise edits in the genetic material of cells, including human immune system cells. The technique has been floated as a potential cure for everything from genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis to common abnormalities like color-blindness.
The fight against cancer, though, will likely be one of the most exciting applications for Crispr. That’s how scientists at Sichuan University in Chengdu used the technology, injecting Crispr-modified cells into a patient with an aggressive case of lung cancer. No results are yet available; the clinical trial was only started in June of 2016, but this could be the beginning of some major shifts in the battle against cancer.
October 21, 2016 – Biden Unveils Cancer Moonshot Final Plan
Vice President Joe Biden has announced the final plan for his Cancer Moonshot program, a new federal initiative to rapidly accelerate developments in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. The goal is to squeeze a decade’s worth of scientific progress into the span of five years. To do so, Biden and his team at the National Cancer Institute are partnering with private-sector companies and academic institutions to gain from recent developments in data technology. One initiative will see tech giants Amazon and Microsoft partner with the National Cancer Institute to create a digital archive of genomic data. Making it easier for cancer researchers to access and share research results and statistical information has become one of Biden’s primary goals.
Strengthening cancer prevention and diagnosis is another priority. In the first year of the plan’s implementation, the government hopes to expand vaccination for the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes almost all cases of cervical cancer and most anal cancers. One of the program’s second-year goals is to leverage the increasing availability of wearable technologies, like Fitbit, as a diagnostic tool.
September 27, 2016 – FDA Warns Against Relying On Ovarian Cancer Blood Test Results
When doctors suspect that a woman has cancer, no matter the type, one of the first tests ordered is usually a cancer antigen blood diagnostic. The test, often abbreviated to CA125, screens a patient’s blood for specific proteins that can be elevated in people who have cancer. Cancer blood tests, often marketed as a screening tool developed specifically for ovarian cancer, have become increasingly profitable for private companies.
The only problem? These cancer tests aren’t “accurate or reliable,” according to the US Food & Drug Administration. Despite the marketing claims, cancer antigens can be elevated for any number of reasons – the presence of a cancerous tumor being only one. In a warning announcement released on September 7, 2016, the FDA noted serious concerns “that women and their physicians may be misled by such claims and rely on inaccurate results to make treatment decisions.”
August 17, 2016 – Computers Outperform Human Pathologists In Analyzing Cancer Tumors
Soon, pathologists may become a thing of the past. Researchers at Stanford University say they’ve trained computers to assess biopsied lung cancer tumors more accurately than human pathologists.
The computers analyzed more than 2,000 images of lung cancer tumors, which can be hard to differentiate, using machine-learning techniques. The result? Computers were more likely to correctly identify a tumor’s type – and more accurately predict a patient’s prognosis – than people.
This didn’t come as a surprise to Dr. Michael Snyder, the Stanford professor of genetics who led the study. “In hindsight, everything makes sense,” he said in a press release, “the computers can assess tiny differences across thousands of samples many times more accurately and rapidly than a human.” While human doctors usually recognize several hundred different characteristics in each slide, the computers can identify far more – about 10,000.
July 20, 2016 – Metastatic Prostate Cancer Rates Are Skyrocketing, Study Finds
Only 3% of prostate cancers have begun to spread at the time of diagnosis – a shockingly optimistic statistic in the world of cancer. Even so, researchers at Northwestern University have found evidence that aggressive prostate cancers are being diagnosed in men between 55 and 69 at nearly twice the rate observed in 2004. Overall, the number of advanced-stage prostate cancers grew by 72% between 2004 and 2013.
Dr. Edward Schaeffer, who led the study of National Cancer Database data, says there are two running theories to explain the increase. Either prostate cancers have actually become more aggressive, men are being screened for the disease less frequently or both.
June 23, 2016 – First Human CRISPR Trial Gains Approval
A National Institutes of Health advisory panel has approved the first clinical trial of CRISPR-Cas9, a breakthrough gene-editing technology that researchers say could solve nearly every major medical problem we face. In the trial, immune cells will be removed from 18 patients and genetically-altered to improve their performance.
The cells will be altered in three ways, Nature explains. “One edit will insert a gene for a protein engineered to detect cancer cells and instruct the T cells to target them, and a second edit removes a natural T-cell protein that could interfere with this process.” A third alteration will “disguise” the cells, by removing a gene that identifies T cells as part of the immune system.
While the study is being run out of the University of Pennsylvania, most of the patients involved will be treated at cancer centers in California and Texas. Like most early trials of novel immunotherapy techniques, this first study will only look at whether or not CRISPR-edited cells are safe in people. If successful, further studies will determine if the technology actually helps us fight cancer.
May 17, 2016 – Suicidal Ideation, Depression Increase Prior To Cancer Diagnosis
In Sweden, researchers have found that mental health diagnoses are significantly increased among cancer patients. The increase appears to begin at least 10 months prior to an official cancer diagnosis.
For their newest study, Dr. Donghao Lu and his colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden chose a radically large study sample: every person who had been born in Sweden and were still living there in 1990. Combing through medical records logged between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2010, the researchers identified more than 304,000 residents of Sweden who had been diagnosed with cancer, then matched those patients to over 3 million cancer-free people, taking age and sex into account for accuracy.
But the study’s focus wasn’t on the rate of metastasis or reaction to treatment; it was about the rate of mental health disorders that accompany a cancer diagnosis. Researchers have long known that a new cancer diagnosis can increase suicidal thinking, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Obviously, there’s nothing counter-intuitive about that, but Lu’s results certainly cut against the grain. Future cancer patients were around 10% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health problem during the 10 months prior to their cancer diagnosis than cancer-free individuals. During the first year after diagnosis, cancer patients were nearly 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders, an increase that quickly dropped after the first year. The rate of mental health diagnoses, however, remained elevated among cancer patients ten years after their initial diagnoses.
Lu’s paper, published in April’s Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology, presented few theories to explain the pre-diagnosis bump in mental health problems, but one idea is that patients becoming aware of early cancer symptoms may be more likely to experience depression and anxiety, whether or not they’ve linked the symptoms to the possibility of cancer.
April 26, 2016 – Using Artificial Intelligence, Scientists Find Way To Diagnose Cancer Faster
In a new paper published by Nature’s Scientific Reports journal, researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute say they’ve developed a new technique, capable of accurately imaging hundreds of thousands of cells every second.
Their device, a sort of specialized microscope, uses pulsating light to develop nano-second images, at a rate of around 36 million pictures per second. The resultant data is then fed into a “deep learning” computer algorithm which categorizes each cell based on its size, shape and ability to absorb light, ultimately differentiating between healthy cells and cancerous ones.
The algorithm learns from its mistakes, getting better, and more accurate, over time. Perhaps best of all, there’s no need to stain the cells with a fluorescent dye, which can ultimately harm them and hinder further analysis. Compared to a standard method, which successfully identified cancer cells 77.8%, the researcher’s new technique got it right in 95.5% of cases.
March 30, 2016 – Two Phony Cancer Charities Stole $187 Million From Donors, Federal Trade Commission Says
Two “sham charities,” both run by James Reynolds, Sr., have agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), all 50 states and the District of Columbia which claimed the organizations promised to assist cancer patients, but instead spent more than $187 million in donor contributions bankrolling the lives of their founders. The settlement, $75,825,653, is equal to the amount consumers donated to the two charities from 2008 to 2012.
The Cancer Fund of America and Cancer Support Services used the Combined Federal Campaign, a government program that allows federal employees to make charitable donations, to distribute fundraising materials.
Direct solicitations touted the charities’ work “on the front lines of the fight against cancer,” according to the Tampa Bay Times and Center for Investigative Reporting. But “those were lies,” the FTC lawsuit said. “Not one of the defendants has operated a program that provides cancer patients with pain medication to alleviate their suffering, transports cancer patients to chemotherapy appointments, or pays for hospice care.”
Instead, Reynolds used donor contributions to fund lavish vacations, including a cruise to the Caribbean, college tuition for family members and dinners at Hooters, the government’s lawsuit claims. For-profit fundraising companies were promised up to 95% of every dollar raised, far more compensation than is common.
February 3, 2016 – Stanford Among Hospitals To Pilot Malpractice Apology Program
At Stanford University’s hospitals, a decade-old program in which doctors apologize for their mistakes, explain what went wrong and offer monetary settlements has reduced medical malpractice lawsuits by 50%. Stanford’s Process for Early Assessment, Resolution and Learning (Pearl) is one of several so-called “communication and resolution” programs being piloted in major US hospitals, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Physicians and staff members are often wary of admitting to malpractice and the consequences, either disciplinary action from their employer, civil liability or both. With a communication and resolution program in place, they don’t have a choice. Doctors must commit to transparency, and report mistakes as soon as they occur, without fear of sanction or punishment. In exchange for their cooperation, some employers are giving their physicians reductions in malpractice insurance premiums.
Learn more in our article “Full Disclosure: A Handful Of Hospitals Are Making Docs Apologize.”
January 4, 2016 – In Canada, Province Of Alberta Sues Doctor Over Cancer Misdiagnosis
In one of the strangest cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits ever, the Canadian province of Alberta is suing a doctor from Ontario for failing to diagnose a brain tumor.
Martina Gulevich was misdiagnosed in Ontario, where a radiologist failed to notice a 3 centimeter tumor on her CT scan. After moving to Alberta, Gulevich’s new doctors relied on the inaccurate diagnosis to treat her. In the meantime, her tumor was allowed to grow, necessitating costly medical procedures. Since the cancer worsened in Ontario, not Alberta where Gulevich was misdiagnosed, jurisdiction for the case lies in the patient’s new home, a Court of Appeals ruled.
Canada’s National Post originally picked up the story.
December 15, 2015 – FDA Finds Many Diagnostic Tests “Inaccurate & Unreliable”
Whether they’re looking for abnormally-high glucose levels or ovarian cancer cells, doctors rely on diagnostic tests more now than ever before. But unlike drugs and medical devices, most “Laboratory Developed Tests” (LDT) don’t have to be approved as safe and effective by the US Food & Drug Administration. It’s not much of a surprise then that the FDA has found many of these tests “inaccurate and unreliable,” according to the New York Times. It is, however, a tragedy.
Reviewing 20 case studies involving diagnoses arrived at with LDT results, FDA investigators found significant evidence that “these products […] have caused actual harm to patients.” False-positives led to mistaken diagnoses; false-negatives left real diseases untreated. Half of the case studies involved cancer diagnoses.
LDTs are a specific category of tests, and an over-the-counter pregnancy test doesn’t fit the bill. The FDA defines laboratory developed tests as “in vitro diagnostic test[s] that [are] designed, manufactured and used within a single laboratory.” In vitro simply means that the tests are run on cells removed from their original context, the body.