Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Every year there are millions of people diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands do not survive.
Many types of common cancers are readily treatable if they are caught in the beginning stages. However, this window of opportunity is often narrow, but early detection and diagnosis may be the difference between life and death.
The failure of a doctor to properly diagnose cancer does not always lead to a viable medical malpractice lawsuit. To determine whether the victim has a viable case, it needs to be determined whether the doctor met the standard of care and performed as a reasonable doctor in similar circumstances would have. To determine this, the plaintiff and defendant will need to present testimony from expert witnesses regarding what a reasonable doctor would have done.
However, simply because a doctor’s diagnosis may not have been correct does not always mean that the doctor breached the standard of care or behaved in an unreasonable way under the circumstances. There are cancers that are difficult to detect or distinguish at certain stages. While mistakes do happen, there are unreasonable mistakes that rise to the level of medical malpractice.
In order for a doctor to be found liable for medical malpractice, the plaintiff needs to have suffered an injury that would not have occurred had the doctor not breached the standard of care. When it comes to a cancer misdiagnosis, this requirement can be complicated. Even if a doctor may have been unreasonable in their failure to diagnose or misdiagnosing the cancer, the consequences the plaintiff faced may have been statistically the same had the diagnosis been proper, especially in cases of cancer with high fatality rates.
It can also be argued by the plaintiff, or their surviving family members, that the durations of the plaintiff’s life was shortened, the quality of the patient’s life was degraded, or that the plaintiff’s chance of survival was diminished or lost.
There are also cases of misdiagnosis where the doctor has incorrectly determined a patient has cancer when he or she actually did not. If there was a breach of the standard of care, then the doctor is liable for the damages caused by any unnecessary surgeries or treatment. The doctor may also be liable for the fear and anguish the patient may have suffered during the time they believed they had cancer.
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