Breast cancer. Those two words strike fear into the hearts of women. But with modern methods of early detection and diagnosis, millions of women survive and live long lives after breast cancer. The key is catching it at an early stage, before it begins to spread to other areas of the body. However, a small error can cost a woman her life, so contact a Phoenix breast cancer attorney if your doctor failed to diagnose you or a loved one.
One in every eight women will have breast cancer over the course of a lifetime; but only one in thirty-six will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. When detected in its earliest stages, breast cancer is far from being a death sentence. It is very curable early on. So it is absolutely essential that doctors are diligent in ordering routine screenings and following up on any possible indication of cancer without delay.
The Tools and Tests to Prevent Breast Cancer Deaths
We have the tools to prevent the loss of life to breast cancer: mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and clinical breast exams are available to reveal lumps or masses. But if your doctor doesn’t order these tests, you may never know that a lump too small for you to detect on your own may be a growing threat to your life. This frequently happens to younger women, even when they have obvious symptoms, because doctors don’t consider breast cancer a young woman’s disease; but it all too often is.
Even when the tests have been ordered, the potential for a failure to diagnose the cancer remains. The doctors and radiologists women trust to perform and interpret these tests must be careful and competent. An error could cost a woman her life. If your doctor failed to diagnose breast cancer, or didn’t order the screening tests despite an indication or risk factor that you might have, the doctor can be considered negligent and held liable for your advancing illness. Likewise, if a screening was not performed properly or a radiologist failed to read the results accurately, and the diagnosis was missed, this could potentially constitute medical negligence.
Common Breast Cancer Missed Diagnoses
While it would seem that any lump would be immediate cause for concern and the appropriate tests ordered, sadly, in some cases doctors misdiagnose the disease as other conditions. For example, patients with a history of fibrocystic breasts may experience a misdiagnosis of a cancerous lump as another harmless fibroid. A doctor might diagnose a new mother’s breast cancer as mastitis or a clogged duct. In pregnant women, breast cancer may be dismissed as common breast changes related to pregnancy.
In some cases, the disease may progress to impact other organs including rash-like skin metastasis which a doctor might misdiagnose and refer the patient to a dermatologist. In other instances, doctors fail to order the proper pathology tests or a biopsy because they misdiagnose breast cancer as a benign cyst.
Your Right to Medical Competence
The anguish of a breast cancer diagnosis is compounded by the knowledge that a trusted physician’s error in diagnosis could cost your life or the life of someone you love. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are only licensed to practice after receiving extensive education and demonstrating their knowledge and ability. You have the right to expect that a licensed doctor, nurse, radiologist, or other licensed healthcare professional will apply that education, knowledge, and experience to your case, and that you will be able to trust your doctor’s diagnosis, or lack thereof.
When the standard of care you receive falls short of that which another reasonably competent licensed physician or other healthcare professional would provide in similar circumstances, you may be able to recover money as compensation for your damages. If the breach of standard of care has resulted in a wrongful death, the estate and the survivors who loved and depended on the deceased may have a civil cause of action against the doctor, radiologist, or other negligent healthcare provider.
What You Can Do When Your Doctor Has Failed to Diagnose Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, there may be little you can do to recover your health if the cancer has spread out of control, and there is no way to bring back a loved one who has died because of a doctor’s negligence. But you can often recover money to help compensate for the financial and personal losses you’ve suffered. Even more importantly, you can hold these negligent doctors accountable for the terrible harm they’ve caused you and your family, and in doing so deter future incidences of medical negligence, perhaps saving other patients and families from the anguish and pain you’ve endured.
When you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice and have been harmed physically, emotionally, and/or financially as a result, you should immediately consult an experienced Phoenix medical malpractice attorney. Because of the extreme difficulty and complexity of these cases, make sure that the lawyer you select has succeeded in winning meaningful awards for past clients in similar cases. Your attorney must be conversant with medical standards, procedures, and terminology and should have expert medical professionals on call to assist in analyzing your medical records and proving the case for negligence.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
An experienced Arizona medical malpractice lawyer can investigate the unique circumstances of your case. By thoroughly examining your medical records with a practiced eye, your attorney can pinpoint on what occasion or occasions you or your loved one’s medical professionals failed in one or more of the following areas:
Failed to order diagnostic tests
Failed to act on abnormal or inconclusive results in a timely manner
Failed to properly evaluate your family history
If a missed diagnosis caused your disease to advance, the medical provider who failed to treat you within the acceptable standard of care is liable for damages. Your medical malpractice attorney can gather evidence to conclusively demonstrate fault by proving the following points of medical liability:
That a doctor/patient relationship existed at the time of the missed diagnosis
That the medical provider owed you or your loved one a duty to provide the medical community’s accepted standard of care
That they failed to provide this standard due to an act of negligence
That the negligence directly caused the injury—in this case, the advancement of the disease
That the injury resulted in real damages, including economic damages like medical bills and non-economic damages like pain and suffering, disfigurement, and in some circumstances, wrongful death
By investigating, collecting evidence, interviewing medical experts, and proving the above points of liability, a Phoenix breast cancer lawyer can help you gain the maximum compensation in your case.
What Types of Compensation are Available?
A delayed cancer diagnosis results in the spread of the disease to more advanced stages, requiring more invasive, painful, disfiguring, and expensive treatments. What could have been a simple lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy becomes a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment. In some cases, the delay can result in incurable cancer and terminal illness. A successful malpractice claim can help victims gain compensation for the following damages:
Their medical expenses and future medical expenses for ongoing treatment, reconstructive procedures, and palliative care if required
Lost wages for the time lost from work during treatment and recovery
Future lost wages for ongoing treatment
Pain and suffering
If the delayed treatment results in a wrongful death claim by family members left behind, the claim can also cover:
Lost earnings from the loss of a provider
Lost benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans
Loss of companionship and support
While financial compensation cannot undo the harm of a missed breast cancer diagnosis, it can provide access to the best medical treatment and ease financial concerns so you can focus on recovery or helping your family to recover.
Legal Help for Medical Malpractice in Phoenix
If your doctor has missed a diagnosis of breast cancer and your disease has worsened, or if a member of your family has died from breast cancer that her doctor failed to diagnose, you will find the help you need at Knapp & Roberts. Our Phoenix personal injury lawyers are seasoned medical malpractice attorneys with years of experience assisting women and their families who have become victims of negligent failure to diagnose breast cancer or other devastating diseases. We have handled numerous cases in Phoenix, Prescott, Scottsdale and the surrounding areas, and we want to hear your story. Call for a free consultation to protect your right to justice.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.