There’s probably nothing scarier than learning you have a potentially terminal illness. And there’s nothing more frustrating than learning that you could have received treatment much earlier had a doctor successfully located the problem. The issue of misdiagnosis is pronounced in cases of breast cancer. To begin with, in 2017 alone, experts expect there to be 252,710 emergent cases of (invasive) breast cancer. For women, there’s a 12 percent chance of receiving such a diagnosis. And as death rates are higher in breast cancer patients than in any other cancer patient, the question of misdiagnosis is an important one.
According to a study conducted by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, there may be at any given time 90,000 people with misdiagnosed breast cancer– that’s four percent of all breast cancer cases. As Dr. Ira Bleiweiss told ABC News, identifying this type of cancer is not easy, so physicians might sometimes miss the signs. “These are things that are subject to interpretation and more expertise in making that interpretation is better,” said Port.
Medical Malpractice Claims
If you find out that a doctor misdiagnosed your breast cancer, you might be able to pursue compensation for economic damages (such as medical bills) and pain and suffering damages (such as a diminished quality of life). A misdiagnosis can come in multiple forms: A doctor can diagnose you with something you don’t have, or he or she can fail to diagnose a disease that you do have. We’re dealing with the latter case.
In pursuing a medical malpractice suit, you must be absolutely certain that you and your doctor were involved in a demonstrably official doctor-patient relationship. Without proof of your relationship you cannot move forward with your case. There may be some cases where a doctor is merely consulting and not administering treatment. In such a circumstance, you might have trouble substantiating the relationship.
Once you’ve established the relationship, you will need to show that the doctor was negligent and breached his or her duty of care. Doctors are fallible and thus cannot be held to unreasonable standards of perfection. For this reason, it is important to determine that your doctor failed to act in the appropriate manner. This means that another prudent and competent doctor would have acted differently than your physician. Thus, if your doctor went through the proper procedures and made the proper observations (just as any competent doctor would do), you may have a hard time proving your case.
The final task is to show that your physician’s negligence directly resulted in your injuries. It is sadly not enough that you have cancer. You must show that the doctor’s malpractice caused you direct harm. This could mean that his or her failure to diagnose the cancer caused you to miss much needed treatments which resulted in the worsening of your condition.
You may also be looking to settle your malpractice suit out-of-court. After all, a breast cancer diagnosis is already incredibly burdensome. Taking a case to court might end up adding to your stress.
The first thing to do in this situation is to notify your doctor that you are filing a claim. The doctor should then let his or her insurance company know that a malpractice claim has been filed. If he or she fails to do this, the insurance company could refuse to pay out the claims. This is bad for everyone and should be avoided at all costs. Having an attorney by your side can help avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Once you’ve commenced negotiations, it’s a good idea to have the input of an attorney, as insurance companies will likely employ all kinds of tactics to reduce the settlement to the lowest possible amount.
Even if you don’t plan on settling out-of-court, you can still benefit from the input of an experienced malpractice attorney who understands the intricacies of your state’s malpractice laws. Having legal aid can allow you to focus on recovery, rather than the stresses of medical malpractice jurisprudence. In Georgia, please call attorney Laurie Robbins for a free claim evaluation.