When patients know that something is wrong, they rely on their doctors to diligently investigate their symptoms and accurately diagnose their medical issues, all within a timely period. Unfortunately, this does not always occur, as cases of physicians missing or giving wrong diagnoses persist. One example is a recent study indicating that mammography is less accurate when used to diagnose breast cancer in some patients, which may lead to misdiagnoses. Whenever diagnoses are overlooked or incorrect, patients have legal rights.
Missed or Wrong Diagnoses
According to one medical malpractice source, approximately 225,000 patients die from medical malpractice errors each year, which makes it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Malpractice by physicians and other medical personnel include medication or surgical errors and missed, wrong or delayed diagnoses. When doctors act negligently and fail to diagnose serious or terminal illnesses or medical conditions in a timely manner, like cancer or brain tumors, the effects can be devastating to patients and cause irreparable harm.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) researched the accuracy of mammography screening by looking at its cancer detection rate, interval cancer rate and the stage at diagnosis. Study results indicated using mammography screening to detect a recurrence of breast cancer in women who already had it is less accurate than for women who have not. The study also found that mammography is more accurate at detecting cancers during earlier stages for both of these groups of women.
This study serves as one example that could lead to more misdiagnoses of breast cancer for certain women. If physicians rely on the yearly mammography screening results suggested for women who already had breast cancer instead of using “a more tailored strategy,” as the study authors suggest, they may miss a timely identification and diagnosis of a return of breast cancer. This could negatively impact patients by causing them to suffer from full-blown breast cancer again and all of the pain and suffering it brings, even with treatment.
Patients’ Legal Rights
Patients of any form of medical malpractice, especially those whose physicians have overlooked or given an incorrect diagnoses, have legal rights and options for holding doctors accountable for their grave errors. While the laws that rule when and how a victim of medical malpractice may sue for medical malpractice, there are different ways that lawyers can help a patient approach the legal system. There are also various remedies for which a victim of medical malpractice may recover, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and punitive damages.
If you were the victim of any form of medical malpractice, contact a personal injury attorney in your area to discuss your unique case and how you can recover under your state’s laws.