Can I Sue for Malpractice if a Doctor Fails to Diagnose Cancer?

When an individual has cancer, early detection and treatment can have a positive impact on their health and life expectancy. Unfortunately, doctors can either fail to diagnose the disease entirely or diagnose it so late that the patient’s life is severely compromised. When a patient doesn’t receive an early diagnosis, their chance of being treated effectively is greatly reduced.

When cancer is caught early, it may be operable, or it may respond to radiation or chemotherapy. It may also still be located in just one part of the body. However, if the disease is only diagnosed after it has spread, it may no longer be operable and it may not respond to chemo or radiation. This can reduce a patient’s lifespan by decades.

Even if the patient can still get surgery or chemo, they may have to get more extensive procedures or more rounds of chemotherapy. This means they’ll likely endure higher medical bills and more painful treatments. Also, the disease becomes less likely to go into remission even when the patient starts to get treatment. Naturally, this reduces the patient’s quality of life drastically.

No amount of money can make up for this. However, if you’re in such a situation, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor. You could be eligible for a range of damages including medical expenses and lost income. A Georgia medical malpractice attorney can help you to get compensation.

Why Cancer Can be Misdiagnosed

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because a health care professional failed to adhere to the accepted standard of care. Other experts in the doctor’s specialty determine what is the standard of care that’s expected.

Given the prevalence of cancer, you would naturally expect that a competent physician would notice signs or risk factors and order the necessary tests. However, sometimes doctors overlook cancer as a possibility because they believe the patient is too young. This is especially likely to occur in cases of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer. That being said, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can involve patients of any age and cancers of any type.

Some of the common reasons why doctors fail to diagnose cancer are:

  • The doctor assumed the individual’s symptoms had another cause and didn’t screen for cancer,
  • An initial test did not reveal cancer and the doctor opted not to test again even though the patient’s symptoms continued or got worse.
  • The doctor treated symptoms without checking to see if an underlying condition was causing them.
  • The doctor relied on test results that were not definitive.
  • The tests were not performed or interpreted correctly.

Not every case of delayed diagnosis is an example of medical malpractice. However, when a case falls below the accepted standard of care, the patient has the right to consult a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer.

Cancers That Are Common Misdiagnosed

There are many types of cancers. However, some are more likely to be subject to diagnosis errors. These include:

  • Breast cancer. This may be misdiagnosed as tissue inflammation or a non-cancerous cyst
  • Colorectal cancer. Doctors sometimes diagnose the patient with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease.
  • Lung cancer. Some patients who have lung cancer are told they have bronchitis, asthma, or pneumonia.
  • Leukemia. This may be diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder or the flu.
  • Thyroid cancer. Individuals who are told they have Graves Disease, Lyme Disease, or goiter may actually have thyroid cancer.

The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

In Georgia, you have two years from the date of injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, there is also a five-year statute of repose that often applies to cases involving cancer. That’s because the diagnostic error is not usually apparent immediately. It could take years for the patient to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Contact Joe Durham Jr. PC to Get A Free Case Review

If you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice, you have no time to lose. Contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Georgia today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your medical records, seek expert medical opinion, and advise you of your options. If you have a solid case, we’ll do everything we can to help you get the compensation you deserve. At Joe Durham Jr. PC, we’ll work to negotiate a settlement out of court but if we have to go to trial, we’ll do so. We work on a contingency basis, so you’ll only have to pay us when we recover damages on your behalf. Make that call today!

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