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Failure to Correctly Diagnose Cancer the First Time

Diagnose CancerThere are very few things that can rival the emotions experienced when a loved one is suffering from an incurable illness. It is often true that an early diagnosis can increase the survival and recovery prognosis. This may give families a “silver lining” to their situation and even added hope for the future. Unfortunately, there is the possibility of cancer misdiagnosis or even a failure to diagnose at all. For these victims, the valuable time spent attempting to treat the wrong illness may result in the loss of life.


In grade school, average test scores can still result in passing grades and graduation. Medically, getting a diagnosis “almost right” does not count. Diagnosing the incorrect illness has the potential to cause severe harm and even death in many situations. The statistics of misdiagnosis may be surprising to learn:

  • Each year, approximately 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed annually;
  • Of adult outpatient cases, 1 in 20 cases is incorrectly diagnosed; and
  • Of these failures, about half result in severe harm to the victim.

According to a survey conducted by Best Doctors and the National Coalition on Health Care, doctors did believe that these numbers were much smaller, in the 0 - 10% range. However, they did believe that the risk of misdiagnosis was ever-present. They even went on to name the most misdiagnosed cancers in order as:

  • Lymphoma;
  • Breast Cancer;
  • Sarcomas; and
  • Melanomas.
Possible Reasons

If physicians themselves admit that there is a tendency to be wrong, it is simply human nature to want to understand the reasoning for how it happens. The survey’s participants adamantly refute the ideation that misdiagnoses occurred simply as a result of apathy of the physician. They cited the following reasons instead:

  • Fragmented or missing information with medical information systems: 38.5%;
  • Inadequate pathology diagnostic resources: 22%; and
  • Insufficient genetic/genomic information available at the time of diagnosis: 20.3%

Along with this, doctors do go on to blame the healthcare system. They claim to be overburdened, often seeing more than 30 patients in a day. These factors compound creating a much higher risk of being wrong.

No matter the reasoning, a justification cannot bring back the precious time lost fighting the wrong battle. It is ultimately the doctor’s responsibility to overcome all of the obstacles, especially knowing that these risks do exist. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, it may be in your best interest to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. At Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P, we have extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases. We understand your struggle and seek to make right the wrongs that have occurred. If you are interested in speaking with a San Jose, CA medical malpractice attorney, contact us today at (408) 289-1417 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.