According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in this country and accounts for the death of approximately 250,000 people every year. Many of these medical errors involve a delayed diagnosis in which a patient does not receive the treatment they need because of a healthcare provider’s error. Some of these involve the delayed diagnosis of cancer, which can have fatal consequences if the cancer has metastasized before it is detected. A Johns Hopkins Hospital tissue sample from 6,000 patients across the nation found one out of every 71 cases of cancer were misdiagnosed, some saying a patient had cancer when they did not and others failing to report cancer when it was present. According to the same study, one out of five cancer cases were misclassified.
Receiving a prompt and accurate diagnosis of cancer is critical to having a chance to beat this insidious condition or prevent it from developing into a more serious stage. Despite this, doctors and hospitals might try to blame the delayed diagnosis on you or pretend that the extra time would not have made a difference. To have a chance to secure the compensation you’ll need for future medical care and to offset other expenses, you will need an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your corner.
At Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C., we intentionally limit the number of cases we take so we can provide each client with the personalized attention and resources they deserve. This approach has helped us obtain exceptional verdicts and settlements in various medical cases against hospitals and healthcare professionals. To learn more about your legal rights and options after a delayed diagnosis of cancer, contact our firm for a free case review.
What Is a Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer?
A delayed diagnosis occurs when a patient’s condition is not promptly diagnosed, so there is a delay in treatment. Delayed diagnosis may be medical malpractice when a reasonably careful doctor in the same situation should have made the diagnosis.
Delayed diagnosis of cancer is particularly worrisome because cancer tends to spread rapidly. A delay of a few months can make the difference between this condition being fatal or beatable.
What Is the Difference Between a Delayed Diagnosis and a Misdiagnosis?
A delayed diagnosis occurs when a medical condition is not diagnosed promptly. This type of mistake can harm patients because the patient is not receiving treatment for the condition they have. A misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is diagnosed with a condition they do not have. This is dangerous to patients because the patient is not getting the treatment they need for the condition they actually have and the patient may be receiving an unnecessary or even harmful form of treatment.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Forms of Cancer
Many cancers mimic signs of other conditions or other forms of cancer. Cancers that are commonly misdiagnosed include:
- Breast cancer – Despite the success of many public awareness campaigns, cases of breast cancer continue to be missed or precancerous cells are misdiagnosed, making breast cancer one of the leading misdiagnosed forms of cancer.
- Ovarian cancer – Bloating and abdominal pain are commonly associated with ovarian cancer, but doctors may dismiss them as menstrual issues or misdiagnose them as a urinary tract infection or a digestive issue. Women’s pain is also often disregarded by doctors
- Skin cancer – Skin cancer may initially be confused with other dermatological issues, such as eczema.
- Cervical cancer – Doctors use pap smears as the primary tool to diagnose cervical cancer. However, lab analysts may fail to notice abnormal cells, leading to false-negative results.
- Leukemia – Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and often involves symptoms related to other medical conditions, such as anemia or hemophilia.
- Lymphoma – Lymphoma causes symptoms like fever, weight loss, and fatigue, so it can be misdiagnosed for many other conditions, including an infection or the common cold.
- Bladder cancer – One of the most noticeable signs of bladder cancer is blood in the urine, but this symptom can lead doctors to misdiagnose patients with urinary tract infections, anemia, or other conditions. This mistake could be remedied if doctors follow up with patients after finishing a course of antibiotics, but some might not.
Doctors owe it to patients to use their skills and knowledge to diagnose cancer correctly. Failing to follow up with patients, run the right tests, or monitor the success of treatment can lead to serious or even fatal consequences.
Common Causes of Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer
Like with any medical mistake that forms the basis of a medical malpractice claim, a delayed diagnosis can be caused by any number of issues, including:
- Failing to get an adequate medical history from the patient
- Failing to screen a patient with an increased risk of cancerous
- Failing to order the right tests
- Misinterpreting test results
- Misdiagnosing cells as non-cancerous
- Improper handling of a specimen
- Failing to follow up with a patient after a course of treatment failed
It is important that cancer is diagnosed correctly and promptly to avoid severe consequences.
Dangers of a Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer
Early detection is key to successfully beating cancer. Patients often receive a better prognosis when they receive an early diagnosis. They may also have more treatment options and be able to prevent cancer from recurring in the future.
When cancer is not diagnosed until weeks, months, or even years later than it could have been, the progression of the disease is affected. It is more likely to have spread and enter a later stage of cancer. Patients may not be able to fight the cancer at all with a late diagnosis. They may have years taken from their life because of a doctor’s careless mistake.
How to Prove a Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer
Proving a delayed diagnosis of cancer can be difficult, but an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help by focusing on strong evidence to support your legal claim, including:
Your medical records can reveal all information related to your misdiagnosis, including when you first reported symptoms, the actions the doctor took, the date the action was taken, and when the cancer was finally discovered and why.
Certificate of Merit
Illinois medical malpractice claims require plaintiffs to submit a certificate of merit to establish they have valid grounds to make a medical malpractice claim. This will contain important information about the case, including:
- A statement regarding the medical background above the person completing the certificate that shows they meet the requirements to prepare this type of document
- An opinion that the healthcare provider’s care fell outside the accepted standard of care
- A statement that a reasonably careful doctor would have diagnosed the patient sooner and how this would have occurred
- An opinion that the doctor’s delayed diagnosis caused the patient harm
Obtaining this crucial piece of evidence is essential to proving your medical malpractice claim. Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. has a network of medical experts we can call upon to help. In addition to providing the affidavit of merit, medical experts may be necessary to testify at your trial.
How Can a Lawyer Help with My Delayed Diagnosis Claim?
Receiving news that your cancer diagnosis was delayed can be troubling. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can advocate for you while you explore your treatment options. We aim to make your life easier during this challenging time by handling all aspects of your claim, including:
- Investigating your claim and identifying all parties whose negligence contributed to your delayed diagnosis
- Gathering compelling evidence to show that your cancer should have been diagnosed sooner and what the likely outcome would have been with a sooner diagnosis
- Working with an expert to prepare an affidavit of merit, showing that you have legal grounds for the claim
- Accurately describing how you were harmed by the delayed diagnosis
- Answering any questions you have about the claims process
- Fighting for fair compensation on your behalf
What Does a Medical Negligence Lawyer Charge for Services?
At Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C., we do not want clients to worry about paying for services upfront when they are already dealing with injuries caused by doctor’s mistakes. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing upfront and only pay for our services if we are able to obtain compensation for your case. There is no risk or obligation to contact us to find out if you have grounds for a delayed diagnosis claim.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis?
Your health is the number one priority. Work with your healthcare team to determine what your treatment options are and make the right decisions for you and your family. Then, reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can investigate your case and determine if you should have reasonably received the diagnosis sooner and what your options for recovery are.
What Is My Delayed Diagnosis Case Worth?
Delayed diagnosis cases are complex because the doctor is not responsible for the initial cancer. Instead, they are responsible for the difference you incurred because of the delay in diagnosis. This includes the difference in your medical expenses, treatment, pain, suffering, disability and prognosis. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your case and explain the damages you might be able to seek and the potential value of your claim.
What Is the Deadline to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Illinois?
In Illinois, medical malpractice victims are subject to the statute of limitations, which sets a maximum time limit to file a lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider. The statute of limitations is generally two years, which begins when the patient knew or should have known the malpractice occurred, or two years after a patient’s death in a wrongful death claim.
If the patient was a minor at the time the malpractice occurred, the statute of limitations extends to eight years after the malpractice occurs, but in any event, they must file the claim before their 22nd birthday.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations may apply, and so we recommend that you not delay seeking legal assistance following any potential malpractice affecting you or a loved one so you can preserve your legal rights.
Contact a Chicago Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Lawyer
If you received a delayed cancer diagnosis, the lawyers at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. understand how frustrating and frightening this can be. We can help fight for you while you fight cancer. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review to discuss your legal rights and options following a delayed diagnosis.