Posted on 10/19/2021

Is a Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?

Is a Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?

Every month counts when it comes to screening and treating breast cancer. 

Delayed breast cancer diagnosis can lead to many negative consequences, such as entering a more advanced stage of breast cancer, requiring mastectomies, having cancer metastasize to other parts of the body, and a reduced chance of survival.

Women who began treatment 3 to 6 months after noticing breast cancer symptoms have a drastically worse survival rate than women who began treatment in under three months. A delayed diagnosis also leads to more expensive medical bills that can create an undue financial burden for the family of a breast cancer patient.

An estimated 281,550 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. Breast cancer is the second most commonly misdiagnosed cancer in the United States. It is the most frequent reason for lawsuits against doctors today.

Breast cancer is frequently missed by doctors but also commonly over-diagnosed. This resultis in women undergoing unnecessary cancer treatments.

If you or your loved one were misdiagnosed or received a delayed breast cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice case. You may have experienced pain, suffering, or death caused by the misdiagnosis and deserve compensation.

Learn more about what a late or delayed diagnosis is, reasons why breast cancer gets missed, and what you can do about your delayed diagnosis.

What is a Delayed Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?

A delayed breast cancer diagnosis is when it takes three months or greater to diagnosing breast cancer after the initial consultation. 

Unfortunately, delays of greater than three months can result in larger tumor size, positive (cancerous) lymph nodes, developing an advanced stage of cancer, and metastatic disease.

System delays can occur when a healthcare provider fails to schedule an appointment in a reasonable matter of time, causing a delay in scheduling diagnostic tests, receiving test results, and creating a treatment plan. These system delays result in a substandard prognosis for women with breast cancer.

Why do Diagnosis Errors Occur?

There are numerous factors that result in a misdiagnosis or delayed breast cancer diagnosis for women.

The most common key factors causing a late diagnosis include:

  • Failure to order a mammogram or additional imaging
  • Misinterpreting mammogram results
  • Receiving a negative fine-needle aspiration biopsy. This results when the biopsy needle misses the tumor and accidentally collects healthy cells, resulting in a false negative
  • Misdiagnosing breast pain as fibrocystic breast disease or mastitis, diseases that can create lumps or swelling in breast tissue
  • System failures (appointment delays, delays in receiving test results)

Mammograms are well-known to cause misdiagnosis, especially when a radiologist misreads the x-ray image. Breast cancer imaging-related medical malpractice cases are one of the most common forms of litigation. 

Radiologists are increasingly being blamed in these lawsuits, more frequently than in the past.

It’s estimated that about 20% to 30% of women with breast cancer have their tumors missed at their mammogram screening. This is caused by tumors hidden by dense tissue. 

Process of care failures in diagnosing breast cancer is higher when a physician is male and their patient is non-White. 

What Should I Do If I Received a Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis?

A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis should not be taken lightly by the patient or their family. Especially if it leads to further suffering, developing advanced stages of cancer, or even leads to death. This not only causes pain and suffering for the patient and their family but increased medical bills.

If you believe you have suffered a delayed or misdiagnosis, contact a qualified Medical Malpractice attorney right away. They will be able to guide you in collecting evidence to build your case against the doctors responsible for your misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

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Begin by collecting copies of your medical records

Usually, many doctors are involved in breast cancer diagnosis, including your primary care physician and specialist referrals. A lack of communication between your primary physician and specialists can lead to a delay of diagnosis and further problems referred to as a system failure.

To obtain your medical records, ask your doctor’s office for copies of your medical records after each appointment. 

Collecting this medical evidence will help you and your attorney build a case against the physicians and healthcare system responsible for your delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Can You Sue a Doctor for Not Diagnosing Breast Cancer?

A misdiagnosis isn’t always grounds for a medical malpractice case, however, when this diagnosis leads to delayed or incorrect treatment that results in pain, suffering, or death, it often does lead to a medical malpractice case.

In order to successfully sue your doctor for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis you need to be able to prove:

  • You had a doctor-patient relationship
  • The doctor breached their duty of care
  • Negligence by the medical provider that resulted in a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer
  • The patient has suffered from their misdiagnosis, resulting in pain, and suffering, or even death
  • A proper diagnosis could have resulted in getting treatment sooner
  • The patient has incurred damages, including loss of income caused by misdiagnosis and medical bills

Book Your No-Cost Consultation Today

If you or a loved one have recently received a delayed breast cancer diagnosis and are considering a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact the Medical Malpractice team at Grover Lewis Johnson.

Grover Lewis Johnson has over 25 years of experience and a proven track record of leading numerous successful medical malpractice trials.

Our Medical Malpractice team is made up of the best and brightest legal minds in Michigan and works on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay any fees until we win your case.

Medical Malpractice can negatively alter your and your family’s lives. These are mistakes you can’t afford to accept. Your delayed diagnosis cannot be reversed, but you can get the compensation you deserve.

Book your no-cost consultation today and start building your case

Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy from Pexels