The Law Offices of Charles Dunn
Lubbock County Medical Malpractice Attorney
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Errors in cancer diagnoses lead to complications for patients

Although a misdiagnosis of cancer is rare, it can be devastating for Texas patients who undertake an aggressive treatment or delay treatment as a result. For example, one woman who was erroneously diagnosed with breast cancer had a double mastectomy before learning she had been misdiagnosed. Studies have estimated that the incidence of misdiagnosis ranges from under 2 up to 10 percent.

Misdiagnoses may happen for several reasons. Tests could be mislabeled or placed in the wrong file. However, interpreting biopsy results is also not an exact science. For some types of cancer, biopsy results tend to return a more objective picture than others. For example, diagnosing lung cancer is relatively straightforward, but prostate cancer, breast cancer and melanoma are more subject to errors in diagnoses. In addition to diagnosing the cancer itself, it is also necessary to determine what stage the cancer is at. Getting this wrong can be as harmful as a misdiagnosis because the stage the cancer has reached determines how the treatment will proceed. Studies have also shown that doctors may feel pressured by patients and family members to make a definitive diagnosis.

Some doctors recommend that patients seek out second opinions for a cancer diagnosis. This could range from having another medical professional interpret the results to having another biopsy done.

Both a diagnosis that results in unnecessary treatment and a failure to diagnose can be devastating for a patient. Those who have been harmed in this manner might want to talk to an attorney about whether the mistake constitutes medical malpractice. It will need to be demonstrated that the health care practitioner failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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