What happens if doctors fail to diagnose or misdiagnose cancer?

What happens if doctors fail to diagnose or misdiagnose cancer?

You know there’s something wrong with your body. After all, it’s your body. The symptoms, lumps or other issues you’ve been having are not normal. Knowing that you need help to diagnose and treat whatever caused the issue, you seek medical advice. Sadly, your doctor does not take your symptoms seriously. Instead of fully examining you and ordering diagnostic tests, he or she simply assumes your symptoms are the result of something minor.

Older adults may have worrisome symptoms attributed to their aging, while women’s symptoms could end up blamed on menstruation or menopause. It is also common for people who are overweight to face criticism for the size of their bodies instead of adequate examination and care. Your doctor could choose to blame your size, weight, age or gender for your pains, digestive issues and even headaches instead of finding the real cause. When the underlying cause is actually cancer, the result could be tragic.

Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose is far too common

Doctors go through years of intensive schooling in order to understand how to determine what conditions cause what symptoms. Learning to adequately diagnose is one of the most important skills a doctor obtains during medical training. While it is often the most common or simplest condition causing the symptoms, doctors should also take steps to rule out more serious conditions, including cancer, when diagnosing persistent, sudden or worsening symptoms.

Sometimes, doctors simply fail to exclude potential cancer causes for symptoms by not performing testing. The results for the patient can prove devastating. Cancers can spread quickly, metastasizing and attacking other organs and parts of the body. The longer patients go without surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, the worse their potential outcomes become. Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose can turn a treatable cancer into a death sentence.

Diagnosing cancer that isn’t there is an issue, too

Of course, the reverse situation also happens. Patients with other conditions, including conditions like Lyme Disease, could end up with a diagnosis of cancer that is incorrect. Some patients have undergone unnecessary surgeries or even chemotherapy due to a doctor diagnosing cancer without affirmatively verifying the presence of cancerous cells in the body.

It’s easy to see how this could become a devastating situation. The patient may become weakened after the unnecessary treatment. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can cause a host of symptoms and issues for patients.

You have the right to hold doctors accountable for diagnosis failures

You put your trust and your health in the hands of the doctors you visit. When they fail to adequately explore potential causes for symptoms you experience, they put you in a dangerous situation.

Not only could you receive the wrong treatment or delay necessary and time-sensitive care, you can also incur increased expenses due to a misdiagnosis. In some cases, these diagnostic mistakes can become the basis for a successful medical malpractice claim against the doctor, hospital or practice.



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