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Can I Sue a Doctor for Failure to Diagnose My Cancer?

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

Waukegan medical malpractice attorneysThroughout the last several decades, there have been remarkable advancements in the field of cancer treatment. Increasingly, doctors and other medical professionals are able to detect cancer early enough for treatments to be successful. The sooner a person can receive a cancer diagnosis, the sooner they can begin an aggressive treatment plan that slows the spread of the disease and, ideally, eradicates cancerous cells. 

Doctors and other healthcare staff have an ethical and legal obligation to provide reasonably competent medical care. This includes providing patients with timely and accurate diagnoses. In some cases, a doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical Mistakes That Can Lead to Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer

When a doctor, radiologist, oncologist, or other medical professional fails to diagnose cancer in a reasonably timely manner, the patient may miss the opportunity to start cancer treatment before the disease has significantly progressed. Sadly, there are some situations in which failure to diagnose cancer can even lead to a patient’s death. There are many different mistakes that can lead to a doctor failing to diagnose cancer including:

  • Not taking patient complaints about pain and other symptoms seriously
  • Failing to order the necessary diagnostic tests and laboratory tests
  • Failing to perform a biopsy when needed
  • Misinterpreting the results of CT scans, X-rays, and other diagnostics
  • Misdiagnosing the cancer as something else
  • Failing to refer the patient to a cancer specialist

Bringing a Successful Medical Malpractice Claim

Research shows that between 26 and 63 percent of medical malpractice claims involve missed diagnoses. Breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma are some of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions. Physicians cannot be expected to be flawless, however, there are some situations in which a doctor’s mistakes may constitute medical negligence. A doctor or specialist is considered to be negligent when the following elements are present:

  • The doctor had “duty of care” to the patient meaning they had a confidential doctor-patient relationship
  • The doctor breached his or her duty by failing to provide reasonably competent medical care
  • The patient suffered some type of injury or harm as a direct result of the doctor’s breach of duty
  • The patient incurred damages such as medical bills or lost income due to the injury

It is important to keep in mind that a missed diagnosis can only be considered medical malpractice if the doctor failed to meet the prevailing standard of care for his or her speciality. In a medical malpractice claim, this means you will need to show that the doctor acted in a way that most similar medical professionals with similar training and experience would not have acted. Establishing the standard of care usually requires the testimony of other medical professionals, possibly as expert witnesses. 

Contact a Waukegan Misdiagnosis Lawyer

If you or a loved one were the victim of medical negligence involving a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer, contact Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. to learn about how a medical malpractice claim may help you receive compensation. Call our office today at 847-662-3303 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Lake County medical malpractice attorney.




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