Answers | Advice | Results

Answers | Advice | Results

What are the reasons for cancer misdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

Cancer is many people’s biggest nightmare. Hearing you have cancer can cause you stress, fear and worry about the future.

Medical conditions like cancer must be diagnosed and treated quickly, since the faster a diagnosis is given, the faster treatment can begin. Cancer that is caught early and treatments that start immediately can reduce the amount of recovery time and increase the chance that the treatments will be successful.

Additionally, if you have cancer but it is not diagnosed fast enough, the cancer can spread, causing further complications. A proper cancer diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.

Cancer misdiagnoses can happen at any stage of the process. They can occur during the testing process, when imaging is performed or cell samples are collected, or after tests have been performed.

Delays are one of the biggest reasons for a misdiagnosis

A recent study showed that 46% of cancer misdiagnoses were due to primary care diagnostic errors and most of them involved clinical judgment errors, such as waiting too long to obtain a consultation or order a test.

The study also showed that most medical malpractice claims involving cancer misdiagnoses also involved errors during primary care routine screenings or delays in ordering referrals or testing.

Cancer misdiagnoses can also happen after testing is complete if there are false positive or false negative results. False positive results show that cancer is present even if you do not have cancer, while false negative results show that there is no cancer even if you have it.

Misinterpretation of test results

Interpreting test results wrong is another reason for cancer misdiagnoses. A doctor may diagnose you with the wrong type of cancer. This is dangerous because you could end up being treated for an illness you do not have, while the illness you do have goes untreated.

Cancer misdiagnoses frequently occur due to human error or negligence. Your doctor might have failed to obtain a complete and accurate medical history for you or properly document important genetic information, such as a family history of cancer.

Your doctor might rush through the testing process and not spend enough time studying your symptoms. They could choose not to order more tests that could provide you with the answers you need, or they could fail to refer you to a specialist with more knowledge.

Sometimes your doctor may simply refuse to take your signs of cancer seriously. They can automatically assume you do not have cancer due to certain factors, such as your age.

Your options after a cancer misdiagnosis

Negligent actions that result in a cancer misdiagnosis are a form of medical malpractice. You could receive compensation for your misdiagnosis, but you must prove negligence, which can be a challenge. You must also prove your damages.

Your damages could be additional tests or treatments which are more expensive and cause your health to deteriorate further. In worst case scenarios, a cancer misdiagnosis is fatal, if the cancer is not caught in time and it spreads throughout your body. This can result in psychological and emotional damage.

Medical malpractice cases involving a cancer misdiagnosis are complex. Proving a case in court is likely not something you want to be thinking about while you are focusing on your health. There are knowledgeable and experienced professionals who can stand by your side during this tough time.