Most medical conditions are progressive diseases which require timely diagnosis. Even the gravest medical illness benefits from early diagnosis and early treatment. The failure to diagnose a patient's medical condition will often allow the patient to suffer for a prolonged period of time and in some instances suffer irreversible health damage. The affected patient is doubly harmed while prolonging their suffering and postponing, and at times denying, lifesaving treatment to be properly initiated. The greater the delay in diagnosing a medical condition, the lower the chances for full (or even meaningful) recovery. Similarly, the greater the delay in commencing the appropriate treatment, the lower the chances for full recovery.
Cancer in particular is a disease that is associated with high morbidity and mortality. As such, it has been the subject of intense research and epidemiologic studies. For some cancers, the origin, pathophysiology and growth patterns are well known and epidemiological studies have demonstrated a direct causal relationship between risk factors and lesions that are early precursors of cancer for a large number of these neoplasms. In some malignancies, exposure to substances or medications that predispose an individual to developing cancer have been well established (asbestos, estrogen, radiation). In other circumstances, failure to intervene in a timely manner allows the progression from early abnormalities into early stages of cancer and then to advanced invasive cancer.
Risk factors and precursors that are known to be associated with a higher incidence of a particular type of cancer include:
In many instances, the risk factors and predisposing conditions for particular types of cancer are so well known, that screening guidelines established by different specialty’s medical societies have become the accepted standard of care. The best well known screening guidelines include:
Papanicolau smear for cervical cancer
Mammography for breast cancer
Fecal occult blood for gastrointestinal cancers
Colonoscopy for colon and rectal cancer
Gastroduodenoscopy for gastric cancer
PSA test for prostate cancer
Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis is not always the result of medical malpractice. Excellent physicians are often surprised at the difficulty to make an accurate diagnosis in some patients. Some illnesses or injuries may not become immediately evident even to the best trained physicians.
Nonetheless, a medical misdiagnosis will be considered to be the result of medical malpractice when the medical provider (physician, nurse practitioner, midwife) fails to take the appropriate measures in accordance with the acceptable standard of care under similar circumstances. Causes that lead to a medical misdiagnosis include:
Failure to take a complete medical history (including a complete family history)
Failure to determine risk factors or predispositions to certain disease
Failure to determine a patient's history of allergies
Failure to screen high risk patients for a particular medical condition
Failure to establish a differential diagnosis based on the patient's signs and symptoms (complaints)
Failure to order the appropriate tests to confirm or rule out a particular diagnosis
Failure to follow up on abnormal tests results
Failure to order a repeat test for inconclusive results
Failure to identify that a test result is abnormal for a particular patient
failure to monitor a patient after treatment has been started
Failure to make the appropriate referral to another physician more qualified in a particular area of medicine (specialist)
Failure to biopsy
Failure to reevaluate a diagnosis after the patient's fails to respond to treatment
Failure to properly interpret test results
Failure to act in a timely manner after test results become available
Premature discharge from hospital
If you believe that you or your loved have been misdiagnosed, victims of a delayed diagnosis of cancer or wrongly treated for any type of cancer and suspect the injury may be the result of a medical provider’s error that was diagnosable, avoidable and/or preventable, you may have a valid cause of action. The injury may be the result of a medical provider's mistake in handling your gynecologic condition and the result of medical negligence. Dr. Borten has over 35 years of experience as an obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon to fully evaluate the merits of your potential case. Allow the Boston area medical malpractice attorneys at Gorovitz & Borten help you assert your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
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