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How diagnostic mistakes can affect the treatment of cancer patients

Cancer starts as a single cell in most cases and then slowly develops into a pressing medical issue. The early symptoms someone has as cancer takes hold in their body might seem minor. The symptoms of cancer can seem like the symptoms of a chest cold or severe fatigue. People may report issues like a loss of appetite, a drop in energy levels, a cough, or other relatively generic concerns.

Part of a doctor’s role in a patient’s treatment is the evaluation of their symptoms to rule out medical issues. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors rush to the conclusion that a simple issue, like a chest cold, is the source of someone’s symptoms. They might commit a diagnostic error when they diagnose someone with a cold or other minor issue instead of ruling out cancer first.

One of the reasons that a delayed cancer diagnosis is such an upsetting and dangerous form of medical malpractice is that it may cut someone off from less painful and invasive treatment options for their cancer.

The best treatment begins early

There is a reason that healthcare professionals recommend that women over a certain age conduct monthly self-breast exams and that men undergo prostate checks. Early detection of cancer opens the door to many treatment options that may not be as useful once the cancer progresses.

Immunotherapy treatments, for example, can be helpful when there are very few or no cancer cells in someone’s body. Someone who has achieved remission, for example, might undergo immunotherapy to prevent the cancer from coming back. However, immunotherapy is often not a viable option for someone with metastasized cancer that has spread to other parts of their body.

The same is true for other, less invasive treatment options. The surgical removal of a tumor is no longer a viable solution when the cancer has spread elsewhere. Patients may have to undergo debilitating and painful treatments like chemotherapy and radiation treatments if a doctor fails to diagnose them when they first present with cancer symptoms.

How malpractice claims help

There are two benefits derived from a medical malpractice lawsuit filed after a failure to diagnose cancer. The first is the financial compensation for the patient or their surviving family members. The monetary compensation possible in a medical malpractice lawsuit can help cover treatment costs, replace lost wages and otherwise diminish the economic impact someone’s cancer has on their life and their family members.

The second benefit is how the lawsuit forces the medical professional and their employer to reconsider current practices. The choice to invest more time in the diagnostic process could lead to the same physician successfully diagnosing a patient in the future because they order additional tests.

Filing a medical malpractice claim can lead to practical compensation for the people harmed by a doctor’s failures and possibly changes at a medical facility that could eventually protect others from the same experience. As such, those who are in a position to take legal action can benefit from seeking legal guidance to learn more about their options in this regard.