Failure to diagnose cancer can constitute medical malpractice

When someone in Arizona schedules a regular consultation for a checkup, it is typically done to have lurking problems identified and dealt with before they can become serious. Sometimes it is a niggling condition that one wants the physician to check, and if symptoms that seem insignificant are not correctly checked and tested or screened, life-threatening diseases such as cancer can be misdiagnosed as something much less serious. Misdiagnosis might be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Acceptable standards require doctors to provide routine screenings such as colonoscopies for patients older than 50 years of age. Failure to do this, and ignoring symptoms that might indicate cancer could constitute malpractice. A physician must order further testing or refer a patient to a specialist in the appropriate field. Furthermore, the doctor must disclose all test results, both normal and abnormal, and the presence of cancer in the family's history must never be ignored.

An example is a patient who reports digestive symptoms and the doctor diagnoses irritable bowel syndrome without further testing. If it later turns out to be colorectal cancer, the doctor failed in his or her duty to provide an acceptable standard of care. This failure led to the personal injury or death of the patient due to the missed or delayed diagnosis. Damages that resulted can be recovered through the civil judicial system.

Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose may make the patient -- or surviving family members -- eligible for financial and emotional damages. Medical expenses, future medical bills and lost income are included in economic damages while pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement and more are typically covered under noneconomic damages. Navigating a medical malpractice lawsuit is complicated, and most Arizona people in such circumstances choose to retain the services of an experienced attorney to guide them through the legal proceedings.

Source: consumersafety.org, "Cancer Misdiagnosis", Lindsey Pasieka, Accessed on March 9, 2018

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