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Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer; What’s the Key Question When Evaluating a Medical Malpractice Cancer Case?


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11/10/2012
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The fact patterns are always similar.

Patient finds a lump and brings it to the attention of her doctor. The breast lump is examined in the office. From there a number of options can occur.

One possibility is that the doctor tells the patient there’s nothing to worry about and that he will simply watch it closely over the coming months. No testing is recommended and the patient is not given any referral to see a breast surgeon.

On the other hand, a woman with a breast lump can be sent for various diagnostic imaging tests including a breast sonogram, a mammogram and a referral to a breast surgeon who then performs a breast biopsy.

In failure to diagnose breast cancer cases I typically see patients who are told to watch and wait and then ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer later.

In cases where the patient has been sent for various imaging tests, in some cases those tests have been misinterpreted and incorrectly reported. As a result of the misinterpretation the patient is given false hope and only later on, is diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

Another type if misdiagnosis case involves a patient who is sent for a breast evaluation by a breast surgeon. He performs a breast biopsy, also known as a fine needle aspiration. Although the intention was good, the needle misses its mark and fails to obtain the necessary lumpy tissue giving a false negative result.

No matter which scenario caused the delay in diagnosing your breast cancer, the key question in a failure to diagnose breast cancer case is always “If your cancer had been diagnosed earlier, how would your treatment or outcome be different?”

From a legal standpoint it is extremely important that I can prove that if your cancer was recognized earlier, the extent of your cancer would be significantly less and that your prognosis would be significantly better.

There’s also something called the “lost opportunity” or “loss of chance” concept which shows that as a result of delaying your cancer diagnosis, you lost the opportunity for an earlier cure and you lost the chance to have a better prognosis.



Category: Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose

Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

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