Misdiagnosis (the wrong diagnosis) or a missed diagnosis (the failure to diagnose) can pose significant challenges in healthcare delivery. But is cancer misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis of cancer considered malpractice?

The answer varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.

Consider this scenario: You receive a diagnosis of a cancerous tumor, only to later discover it’s benign. In such cases, radical treatment for a malignant cancer could lead to harmful consequences.

Conversely, what if you actually have cancer, but your primary care provider or medical specialist fails to recognize the symptoms?

Missed Diagnoses: Evaluating the Consequences

If your GP overlooks a diagnosis without any adverse health effects or without worsening your condition due to delayed diagnosis, you may not have grounds for a claim.

However, if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, neglects to conduct necessary tests, or doesn’t follow up on biopsy results, leading to delayed treatment, it could constitute medical malpractice. This is the case when the delay in treatment causes provable consequences or damages to the patient.

Examples of consequences for failure to diagnose cancer may include:

  • loss of treatment options,
  • a shortening of expected lifespan, or
  • a lowered survivability rate.

Typically, in failure to diagnose cancer malpractice cases, the stage or spread of cancer has changed due to the delay. This delay can worsen the patient’s prognosis and cause the patient to require additional treatment. The change in the cancer staging and prognosis due to the misdiagnosis must be able to be proved by a medical expert. 

Is Misdiagnosis or a Missed Diagnosis of Cancer Malpractice?

It’s crucial to note that a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis alone doesn’t automatically result in injury or damages to the patient. If the failure to diagnose or the delayed diagnosis doesn’t significantly affect your health or limit treatment options, there may be no basis for a claim. That is true even if the original doctor never figures it out and the diagnosis is made by a new doctor shortly after the original misdiagnosis.

If Doctor #1 gets it wrong on Monday but you go to see Doctor #2 on Tuesday and that doctor makes the diagnosis, your staging and cancer treatment options will be the same. Doctor #1 may have acted below the standard of care, but the only damage is the inconvenience and cost of the second doctor’s visit.

Understanding the nuances of misdiagnosis and its potential consequences is vital for both patients and healthcare providers. It’s also important for attorneys handling malpractice claims to know the difference because not every misdiagnosis is malpractice.

Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medical Malpractice

If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis, seek legal advice from experienced professionals to help assess your situation and determine the appropriate course of action.

Also note: not every law firm is capable of handling medical malpractice claims. Not all attorneys are able to read medical records and discuss intelligently with the medical experts that are required in medical malpractice cases.

Wallace Wason, PLLC is different. This is our practice area. We handle medical malpractice claims daily. Bonus: we work on a contingency basis.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation if you have damages from a missed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer that led to injury. (703) 638-7717

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