Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases and over 600,000 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States in 2022. When cancer is not properly diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, the results can be incredibly tragic. A Philadelphia delay of cancer diagnosis attorney at Youman & Caputo is ready to take your case and fight for you or your loved one.
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An Earlier Diagnosis is a Better Diagnosis
Examples of Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers
Consequences of a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis
Reliable Systems Needed for Health Providers
Abnormal Test Results
Failure to Follow Appropriate Guidelines
Proving Harm in a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Case
What to Look for in a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Lawyer
Cost of a Delayed Diagnosis Attorney
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With many types of cancer, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the patient’s prognosis. That is why it is so important for patients to be conscientious about following their physicians’ recommendations regarding periodic screening, including PSA tests, mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies and skin checks by dermatologists. Countless lives are saved every year by screening tests that detect cancers at an early and treatable stage.
Although a careless, inattentive or incompetent doctor or oncologist could misdiagnose any type of cancer, certain kinds are missed or mistaken for other types of illnesses more often than others. Cancer can be difficult to diagnose if it is hard to see on scans, if it is still in the early stages, or if it mimics other common illnesses or diseases. In some cases, a negligent doctor simply does not fulfill his or her duty to make a timely and accurate cancer diagnosis.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers (and the incorrect diagnoses most frequently associated with them) include:
Misdiagnosing these cancers when a patient presents symptoms may occur due to a general lack of knowledge about the type of cancer, trouble identifying a patient’s symptoms or examples of malpractice, such as the failure to order the correct tests or recommend a patient to an oncologist for a follow-up appointment. Unfortunately, mistaking cancer for a less serious illness can result in a dangerous delay in the treatment of the cancer.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical for a patient with any type of cancer. The ability to effectively treat cancer depends in large part on how soon the cancer is detected. Catching it before it has spread throughout the body is paramount, as this will typically make the patient a candidate for more aggressive treatment options, such as surgery to remove cancerous tumors and tissues. Then, with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the remaining cancer cells could be completely eradicated.
Sadly, a cancer misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can mean a failure to treat the patient until it is too late. It can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. With each day that passes without detecting the cancer, cancer cells will continue to grow and spread, potentially metastasizing to other parts of the body until the illness becomes more difficult (or impossible) to treat. By the time the patient is correctly diagnosed with cancer, it may be in one of the later stages (three or four), which diminishes the patient’s odds of remission and survival
In addition to a less positive prognosis, a delayed cancer diagnosis can also reduce a patient’s quality of living and enjoyment of life. For example, the patient may need to undergo more types of treatments than he or she would have had the doctor made the correct diagnosis on the first visit. Surgery may be required, for example, in a case where chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone might have sufficed in earlier stages. Later-stage cancer treatments can be grueling and costly.
For screening tools to work, physicians and health care providers must have reliable systems for identifying abnormal test results, reporting them to their patients, and ordering the necessary follow-up. There are well-established guidelines (or standards of care) regarding how often such screening tests should be performed, what constitutes an abnormal result, and what steps are necessary when an abnormal result occurs, from additional testing to referral to a specialist.
Following these guidelines obviously does not prevent every cancer death, but it often gives the patient a substantially better chance of survival than if the guidelines are not followed. The Philadelphia emergency room error attorneys at Youman & Caputo understand what to look for when a patient has an incorrect or delayed diagnosis that impacts their life.
Unfortunately, physicians and other health care providers do not always follow the guidelines for dealing with abnormal results. Sometimes an abnormal test result (like an elevated PSA or an abnormal pap smear) either is not noted at all or is not acted on appropriately. When a physician fails to notify a patient of a concerning test result or fails to order the necessary follow-up, the result is a delay in diagnosis of cancer.
The delay may cause cancer to go undetected and untreated for months, or even years, allowing cancer to progress, and perhaps even metastasize. When the cancer is eventually discovered, the patient’s prognosis may be much worse than it would have been with a timely diagnosis. In some cases, the patient has lost the opportunity for cure altogether.
Failure to follow appropriate guidelines may result in a delay in diagnosis of cancer. Regardless of the circumstances, well-established guidelines govern the physician’s obligations to identify suspicious diagnostic study findings, report them to the patient or ordering physician, and recommend an appropriate follow-up.
This is true even if the cancer is not found through typical methods.
For example, cancers can be diagnosed by means other than screening tests. A patient may see a doctor about a specific concern, such as a concerning lump or pain, and the doctor may order a work-up that reveals cancer.
Cancers also may be diagnosed “serendipitously.” This occurs when a patient undergoes a test for a reason totally unrelated to cancer and the test reveals cancer – for example when a patient undergoes a chest x-ray for suspected pneumonia and the x-ray shows cancerous lung nodules.
If you wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Philadelphia for a delayed diagnosis of cancer, it is not enough to prove that your physician or oncologist negligently took too long to diagnose you. You must also have proof of harm or damages – specific losses that you or your family has suffered due to the delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose. Without compensable losses, you will not have grounds to bring a claim. If your cancer would have been terminal regardless of whether the doctor made the correct diagnosis, for example, you may not have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Proving harm requires clear and convincing evidence that you suffered physical or emotional damage, medical bills or other financial losses, lost wages or future capacity to earn, or other losses because of the defendant’s negligence. Evidence to establish harm suffered for a delayed diagnosis of cancer may take the form of hospital bills, medical records, test results and x-rays, reports from your doctor, a personal injury journal, and testimony from a medical expert. Our attorneys can help you preserve and collect evidence to prove harm done.
It is important to take your search for the right delayed cancer diagnosis attorney in Philadelphia seriously. It is incorrect to assume that any attorney you find will work just as well as any other. Different attorneys specialize in different practice areas. With your financial future at risk, you should always take your time and use due diligence to find the best possible attorney for your specific case and needs.
Some of the traits that you should look for in your delayed cancer diagnosis lawyer are:
If you or a family member has been seriously harmed due to a delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cancer, you deserve a top attorney to represent you in Philadelphia. Schedule free consultations with two or three top choices in your city. Then, ask each lawyer questions about their qualifications and experience with your type of case. Youman & Caputo’s team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys has been trusted by hundreds of clients in Pennsylvania.
At Youman & Caputo, our skilled and knowledgeable Philadelphia delayed cancer diagnosis lawyers cost nothing to our clients out of pocket, win or lose. Our law firm works purely on a contingency fee basis – our clients never pay a dime until and unless we recover financial compensation on their behalf. You will benefit from a free initial case consultation, no retainer, $0 upfront fees and no fees at all if we don’t win your case. If we do reach a successful settlement or jury verdict for your delayed cancer diagnosis, you will pay us a pre-agreed percentage of the total amount collected, rather than us billing you directly.
If you have a potential medical malpractice case in Philadelphia involving a delay in diagnosis of cancer, please contact us today for a free consultation. Youman & Caputo has significant experience successfully litigating cases involving delays in diagnosis of many different types of cancer, including brain, prostate, breast, skin, lung, cervical, sarcoma, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer.
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