We find that too many people have malpractice cases based on a delay in the diagnosis of their cancer. Early diagnosis of cancer generally affords cancer patients the best chance for a complete cure.
Below, we have compiled recommended cancer screenings and testing from the American Cancer Society for different forms of cancer:
- Lung Cancer: For lung cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends screening with LDCT (low dose computed tomography) that should be offered to certain patient populations beginning at age 55. After the initial screening, additional screenings should be done annually. This testing is indicated in patients who smoke or have a history of smoking.
- Prostate Cancer: For prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends screenings that should be offered to certain patient populations as early as age 40 but no later than age 50 (45 for African American men). After the initial screening, yearly or every other year screenings are recommended.
- Breast Cancer: For breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends screening mammography that should be offered to certain patient populations as early as age 40 but no later than age 45. After the initial screening, yearly screenings are recommended for women aged 45 - 54 and, after that, yearly or every other year screenings are recommended.
- Cervical Cancer: For cervical cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends screening (PAP smears) that should be offered to certain patient populations at age 21. After the initial screening, screenings with PAP smears every three years are recommended for women until age 65 or every five years for women aged 30 - 65 when coupled with HPV testing.
- Colon Cancer: For colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends screenings consisting of a stool sensitivity test or a visual exam, offered and performed on individuals at age 45. All positive results need to be followed up with a timely colonoscopy. After the initial screening, yearly stool tests or other screening tests are recommended.
If you or a family member has cancer and either the cancer was advanced at diagnosis or you have reason to believe that there was inadequate screening offered or performed, please inform us so that we can review the pertinent medical records and see if there is an adequate basis for us to recommend legal action.
When Is Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis of Cancer Considered Malpractice?
To have a medical malpractice case, you will need to prove that your healthcare provider failed to uphold the standard of acceptable care. This means proving that they did something another qualified provider would not have or failed to do something another qualified provider would have in the same or similar circumstances.
For example, if your doctor conducted the appropriate cancer screenings and, after noticing something abnormal about your test, referred you to a specialist, this does not constitute malpractice. If you have a very rare form of cancer or you do not present typical cancer symptoms, and your specialist is unable to immediately diagnose your cancer despite repeated screenings and tests, this also does not necessarily constitute malpractice. However, if your doctor ignored the abnormality, and the abnormality turned out to be cancer, you likely have a case. The same is true if the specialists dismissed your symptoms or failed to conduct additional screenings, leading to your cancer advancing to a more serious stage.
Examples of cancer diagnostic errors that generally constitute medical malpractice include:
- Failing to conduct proper tests/cancer screenings
- Failing to identify abnormalities after cancer screenings/tests
- Failing to inform patients of abnormalities
- Failing to conduct additional tests/screenings follow an abnormal test
- Ignoring a patient’s reported symptoms
- Only considering certain symptoms while dismissing others, leading to a misdiagnosis
- Misdiagnosing cancer as another, less-serious condition
- Delaying treatment of cancer, leading to greater metastasizing (advancement) of cancer
- Failing to make appropriate referrals as indicated
Essentially, if the healthcare provider was negligent in any way in failing to diagnose your cancer, you likely have a case.
You will also need to prove that you suffered harm (or that your loved one died) due to the healthcare provider’s diagnostic error or negligence. While this is often the case, it can be difficult to prove without the help of a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney. At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, our Bronx cancer misdiagnosis lawyers know how to utilize available evidence to build powerful claims for our clients. Reach out to us today or visit our office in the Bronx for a free consultation.
What Happens When Healthcare Providers Fail to Diagnose Cancer?
Often, when healthcare providers fail to promptly diagnose cancer, it will advance to a more serious stage or spread to another or adjoining organ (“metastasize”). This often necessitates more aggressive forms of treatment, including more expansive surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy, which can negatively impact the patient’s overall quality of life and lead to significant discomfort, pain, and suffering. When cancer metastasizes to a point where it is incurable, people may die due to the healthcare provider’s error or negligence.
If you believe that your healthcare provider failed to perform the proper cancer screenings, failed to identify test abnormalities, or was in any other way negligent in diagnosing or treating your cancer, contact Wolf & Fuhrman LLP right away. We can help you file a personal injury claim (or wrongful death lawsuit, if your loved one passed away) against the liable party.
You could be entitled to compensation for the following damages and more:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical care costs
- Prosthetic and palliative care costs
- Lost or diminished quality/enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income, wages, and employment benefits
- Lost future earnings
- Funeral/burial costs
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of guidance, care, and support
Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of cancer patients and their families. We are intimately familiar with the medical system and the many blind spots healthcare providers have in properly diagnosing and treating cancer. We fight against systemic racism and sexism that frequently causes people of color and women to receive poor medical care—and we are ready to fight for you.
How Long Do You Have to a Lawsuit After a Provider Fails to Diagnose Cancer?
In 2018, New York legislative leaders and then-Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted Lavern’s Law. Named after Lavern Wilkinson, a 41-year-old mother from Brooklyn who died after her lung cancer went undiagnosed by Kings County Hospital for over two years, the new law extends the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases involving failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis of cancer.
While most medical malpractice cases are subject to a two-and-a-half-year statute of limitations, beginning on the date on which the alleged malpractice occurred, cases involving failure to diagnose cancer can be filed within two and a half years from the date on which the patient learned or reasonably should have learned that malpractice occurred with a seven-year limit from the actual date of occurrence. In other words, plaintiffs have more time to file lawsuits after failing to be diagnosed with cancer, but they still may not sue the liable party if more than seven years have passed.
In many cases involving delayed diagnosis of cancer, patients are not immediately aware that malpractice has occurred. A patient who seeks treatment but does not receive a cancer diagnosis (or is even told that they do not have cancer) cannot reasonably be expected to know that the medical provider they saw committed an error or acted negligently. Under the new law, patients and their families have a greater opportunity to pursue justice when they are victimized by an often-unjust system.
Although you may have more time to file a lawsuit, it is still important that you act quickly. If you believe that your cancer or a loved one’s cancer was misdiagnosed, or that a medical professional failed to promptly diagnose cancer, leading to injury and/or death, reach out to Wolf & Fuhrman LLP right away.