Lawsuit for failure to diagnose cancer

Orlando medial malpractice attorney Tim David talks about failure to diagnose cancer lawsuits

When you hear the dreaded words “You have cancer” from a doctor, the fear can be paralyzing. It can be very difficult to know what course of action to take to protect your family and ensure you get the best possible treatment. You probably have many questions about your condition and your options.

As the shock begins to subside and you begin to think back on the months leading up to your diagnosis, however, you may have new questions. Why did it take so long to diagnose your cancer? Could your doctor or other healthcare professionals have increased your chances of a good recovery if they had acted more responsibly? Is your healthcare provider responsible for your illness?

Diagnosing Cancer: Responsibilities and Precautions

The first thing to realize is that a doctor or other healthcare provider is never responsible for “giving” someone cancer. In most cases, cancer results from lifestyle choices, genetics, or possibly from exposure to dangerous substances, but it is not caused by a healthcare professional. However, those professionals do have a duty of care to use reasonable precautions to ensure that your cancer is diagnosed as early as possible and that you are offered the proper treatments to maximize your chances of recovery.

The term for negligence in these cases is “failure to diagnose.” If a healthcare professional fails to follow accepted medical practices and, as a result, fails to note symptoms, order tests or perform other actions that could lead to a cancer diagnosis, he or she may be liable for the damages resulting when a patient becomes ill.

When Are Medical Professionals Liable?

There are several circumstances in which medical professionals may be liable for failure to diagnose cancer.

First, the doctor may simply miss the cancer due to ignoring obvious symptoms. When a patient presents with certain well-documented signs of cancer, the doctor has a duty of care to perform examinations and tests to determine if the patient is suffering from the disease. If the doctor simply sends the patient home with a “wait and see” approach, the patient may have grounds for a complaint.

Additionally, doctors may be held accountable if they order the wrong tests or misread test results. When a doctor opens a practice, the implication is that the doctor is competent to perform medical diagnoses and interpret tests. If the doctor fails to do so, the patient may have a claim. 

However, even if it is perfectly clear that a doctor made a mistake, the patient may not have a “slam dunk” malpractice case. In order to win a lawsuit based on failure to diagnose, the patient must be able to show that the doctor’s negligence was the proximate cause of injury. In other words, the patient must be able to prove that if the doctor had acted in a more professional manner, the patient would now be healthier or would be facing a better medical outcome. This can be very difficult to establish.

What Should I Do If I Have Suffered A Cancer Misdiagnosis?

If you feel your doctor misdiagnosed your cancer, it is important to act quickly. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is surprisingly short, so it is critical that you speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The medical malpractice attorneys at David & Philpot, P.L., have recovered millions of dollars for victims who have been mis-diagnosed or suffered damages due to other medical mistakes. Contact them today at 800.360.7015 for a free, no obligation consultation.