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The Impact of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer MisdiagnosisWhile medicine has made great strides in terms of diagnosis in recent years, hearing a cancer diagnosis is still one of the most terrifying things anyone can face. Finding out the diagnosis might have been erroneous can cause significant mental and emotional pain. Sometimes that kind of error can rise to the level of medical negligence or malpractice. If you believe you are in such a situation, you may want to make sure you know what the law says before moving forward with a lawsuit.

Misdiagnosis Facts and Statistics

Misdiagnosis is distressingly common in the U.S. medical system, with as many as one in five cancer cases misdiagnosed yearly. This figure includes both those whose cancer goes undetected and those who are told they have the condition and actually do not, but misdiagnosis can be very harmful in both cases. For those who are told they have cancer and do not, this can lead to significant emotional damage, as well as the possibility of having to undergo aggressive treatments (which can, of course, cause damage in their own right) such as radiation therapy. Meanwhile, those whose cancer goes undiagnosed may be cheated out of valuable time spent with their loved ones.

It is important to note, along these lines, that not every misdiagnosis is actionable. Part of proving a claim for malpractice is to show that you were caused actual harm. If the misdiagnosis is rectified after mere hours, for example, as opposed to being allowed to stand for months, a court would likely find that you did not suffer actual harm, or at least, no harm that would be actionable.

Was the Standard of Care Breached?

The main question in any medical malpractice case is whether or not the standard of care has been breached. In California, there is a very specific standard set out for medical professionals to follow - namely, that they must use the same degree of “skill, knowledge and care” in diagnosis and treatment as would any other doctor with similar ability and experience. In other words, if the defendant can show that any other medical professional would have reacted the same way, and come to the same (mis)diagnosis, a judge or jury may decide that the standard of care has not been breached.

It is also important to keep in mind that you must prove a breach of the standard, but you also must prove that the harm you suffered was directly due to that doctor’s negligence. In a misdiagnosis case, this can be very difficult, because very many things can happen in between misdiagnosis and harm - if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, and the patient later dies from a cancer-related cause, it is almost impossible to determine if misdiagnosis played a role. It may be easier for those diagnosed with cancer when they did not in fact have the disease; they may be able to show physical harm from needlessly aggressive treatment, or shock and emotional trauma from receiving such a dire diagnosis when none was applicable.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

Being misdiagnosed with anything, let alone something as serious as cancer, can have a serious effect on your well-being. If you think you have a case of misdiagnosis, it is always a good idea to consult an attorney. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand just what an ordeal this kind of mistake can be for you and yours. Contact us today via phone or website to set up a consultation. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of San Mateo, San Benito, Santa Clara, Alameda and Monterey.

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.