What You Need to Know About Cancer Misdiagnosis

A cancer diagnosis can feel like a death sentence, but a cancer misdiagnosis can actually become a death sentence. A new study shows that cancer misdiagnosis is far more common than one might think. In fact, researchers from Best Doctors and the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) found that 60.5 percent of doctors surveyed believed cancer misdiagnosis rates to be between zero and 10 percent, a number far lower than the 28 percent estimated by the BMJ Quality and Safety journalBoston Magazine also reports that doctors believed lymphoma to be the most misdiagnosed cancer, followed by, in order, breast cancer, sarcomas, melanomas, and cancer of an unknown site.

The failure to diagnose, or a misdiagnosis of, a serious medical condition such as cancer can mean the difference between life and death. Proper diagnosis is crucial to the administration of appropriate medical treatment, and the failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis can delay or prevent necessary medical treatment. For instance, the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Cogan & Power recently obtained a $2.75 million settlement on behalf of a client whose cancer had gone undiagnosed for two years and, as a result, her cancer had metastasized and was now fatal. In Lee Weis and Ronald Weis v. Northshore University Healthsystems Faculty Practice Associates, No. 11 L 6475, doctors allegedly failed to order the additional testing necessary diagnose a malignant tumor in the patient, despite several indications of an abnormal mass. Over the course of two years, the abnormal mass continued to increase in size, but the appropriate testing was not ordered. By the time the appropriate testing was done, the patient’s tumor and cancer had metastasized in her lymph nodes and spine.

There are several things that you can do in order to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of medical error, including cancer misdiagnosis. For instance, patients should:

  1. Get a second opinion. Second opinions are one of the most important things you can to do protect your health. In fact, given that diagnostic errors are one of the most common types of medical malpractice, a second opinion just might save your life. According to the New York Times, evidence is mounting that second opinions can lead to significant changes in a patient’s diagnosis or in recommendations for treating a disease, particularly with respect to radiology images and biopsy pathology slides.
  2. Review your medical records.
  3. Ask questions and educate yourself about your diagnosis. The more information that you have about your medical condition and symptoms, and diagnosis, the better equipped you will be to take an active role in the diagnostic process.
  4. Be your own best advocate. According to this article, research shows that patients who are more involved with their medical care tend to receive better medical treatment. 

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C. are dedicated to protecting the victims of medical mistakes, including diagnostic errors, and we encourage patients to take a proactive role in their own medical care. If you suspect that you have been the victim of medical malpractice or would like more information about how to minimize the risk of medical error, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 477-2500 to speak with one of our skilled Chicago medical malpractice attorneys.