Finding out you or a loved one has late stage breast cancer is a devastating affair. There’s quite simply no easy way to deal with such a diagnosis. This is especially true when you find out that the diagnosis was delayed due to forces outside of your control because now, in addition to dealing with the brutal facts of cancer, you must do everything in your power to suppress the voice that says, “this could all have been avoided, if only…”
The manner in which you finish this sentence can help determine how you move forward. If, for instance, you happen to blame yourself or the wrath of misfortune, you may want to seek help of the mental health variety – someone who can guide you in the process of coping. But if you finish this sentence with “if only my doctor had been more thorough,” or “if only the radiologist had caught that lump,” then you may want to seek professional help of the legal variety – someone who can guide you in the process of obtaining remuneration.
Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Statistics
Sadly, the failure to diagnose is not as uncommon as perhaps it should be. In fact, 12% of cancer cases are misdiagnosed in the earlier stages, and the American Cancer Society reports that there are approximately 230,000 new cases each year, with approximately 40,000 mortalities.
It’s even more troublesome when you consider that the survival rate for women with breast cancer is 88% if diagnosed in Stage I but only 15% if treated in Stage IV. This means that a misdiagnosis, or a failure to diagnose, can have serious effects on the likelihood of survival.
It’s difficult to comprehend numbers like these. How do so many people make so many mistakes? And what kind of mistakes lead to such catastrophe? Well, a doctor may fail to perform a diagnostic test when one is surely needed, or he or she may misinterpret results, seeing a benign lump where there is in fact breast cancer. It could also turn out to be the fault of technology or the manufacturer who produced the diagnostic equipment. In fact, it could turn out to be the fault of any number of specialists, radiologists, or technicians. The hard path ahead consists in tracing the problem to its cause.
Course of Action
How exactly do you go about such an investigation? First of all, by law you only have a certain amount of time, after the incident has occurred, to file a claim. Be sure to check the specific statute of limitations in your state because you don’t want to do all the hard work only to realize that it was all for naught. Once you’ve done that, you want to work hand in hand with a medical malpractice attorney who can help guide you through the process of collecting relevant medical records such as receipts, appointments or test results. It’s important, once again, to do this in a timely fashion. The longer you wait, the harder it is going to be to piece together the story. In the end, what you and your lawyer will want to determine is whether or not the misdiagnosis had a direct impact on the outcome, and furthermore what was the value of the missed opportunity to treat the breast cancer.
Due to the complexities of a malpractice case of this sort, it is very important that you do your research and choose the best malpractice attorney you can find. He or she can help extricate you from the web of questions, testimonies and medical records. It is particularly important to find help in this time of need, when the last thing you want is the stress of putting together a medical malpractice case.
Other resources relating to misdiagnosis of breast cancer: