How Often is Cancer Misdiagnosed? | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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Doctors and nurses are still human and make mistakes. Unfortunately, an error about cancer can be catastrophic.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
April 29, 2023

A positive or negative cancer result is life-altering news. But before you prepare for the worst or assume you’re in the clear, make sure the diagnosis is accurate. According to recent studies, the total cancer misdiagnoses fall around 11%, with lung cancer specifically misdiagnosed at a rate of 22.5%.

This data suggests that no matter how knowledgeable doctors and nurses are, they’re still human and make mistakes. Unfortunately, an error involving your health can have devastating and costly effects.

Learn more about cancer misdiagnoses, when one could qualify as medical malpractice, and how to recover compensation if you were misdiagnosed in Ohio. Call Kisling, Nestico, & Redick, LLC today at 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation.

Top 5 Misdiagnosed Cancers

According to The National Law Review, the top five misdiagnosed cancers are:

  • Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s)
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Skin cancers

With any cancer, particularly rapidly progressing types, it’s crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, some cancers are over- or under-diagnosed, causing many patients to suffer.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports that as many as 31% of breast cancers are over-diagnosed. On the other hand, prostate cancer, the second-most common cancer in men, can be underdiagnosed. Men with rising PSA levels should be closely monitored and sent for further testing. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Types of Diagnostic Errors

Types of cancer misdiagnoses include the following:

False Negative

The patient is mistakenly told they do not have cancer. They may be misdiagnosed with a benign condition or told there isn’t cancer present. Regardless, a false negative diagnosis prevents them from beginning cancer treatment in time.

False Positive

The patient is misinformed that they have cancer when they do not. A false positive or “false alarm” diagnosis can result in unnecessary treatments with significant side effects.

Delayed Diagnosis

This refers to a doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient in a timely manner. The patient is still given a correct diagnosis, but far too late to begin necessary treatment or prevent cancer from spreading.

Possible Signs You Were Misdiagnosed

Here are potential “red flags” to look out for before and after receiving a cancer-related diagnosis:

  • The doctor didn’t evaluate your complete medical history
  • You did not disclose all of your symptoms
  • The appointment felt incomplete or short
  • The doctor didn’t order all the available diagnostic tests
  • Your symptoms suggest a more common condition
  • Your symptoms don’t improve, or they worsen over time
  • Treatment does not seem to help
  • The doctor ignored your questions, comments, or concerns
  • The doctor reveals you have cancer unreasonably late
  • A second doctor diagnoses you with a different condition

These behaviors and more could suggest a doctor did not adequately evaluate and diagnose you. Even if their diagnosis ends up being correct, you should always trust your gut if you feel like something is off.

What to Do if You Suspect a Cancer Misdiagnosis

If you suspect your cancer was misdiagnosed, take steps to protect your health:

Get a Second Medical Opinion

Seek out another doctor’s input on your cancer diagnosis to double-check if it’s accurate. A second or even third opinion might reveal a different story and prevent you from further harm. Another medical provider can evaluate you more thoroughly and either confirm your initial diagnosis or provide an accurate one.

Consult a Lawyer

If you believe you were misdiagnosed, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Many lawyers offer free consultations to discuss your misdiagnosis and determine if you have a valid medical malpractice case. From there, an experienced attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Is a Misdiagnosis Considered Malpractice?

In Ohio, medical malpractice laws are complex and require an element of negligence. A doctor could have committed medical malpractice if they refused to perform their duties at the level any reasonable doctor would have in the same situation.

If you feel wronged by a false or delayed cancer diagnosis, legal options are available. A highly experienced medical malpractice lawyer can review your case and determine if you have a claim. Your lawyer can work with independent medical experts to establish negligence and fully support your malpractice case.

How to Recover Compensation for Medical Malpractice

A misdiagnosis may seem like an honest mistake. However, some cases may be medical malpractice. When a provider’s negligent or reckless behavior results in your harm, the hospital or other facility could be held liable for your damages.

If you have a case, a written notice must be served to everyone involved in your alleged diagnosis or treatment.

Gather Evidence

As the victim, you have the burden of proof to prove a misdiagnosis occurred. You will need substantial evidence showing the medical error rises to the level of malpractice.

Seek out experienced legal representation that knows how to gather the necessary evidence for your claim, including:

Establish Negligence

To prove fault in your medical malpractice case, the following four elements of negligence must be met:

  1. The hospital had a duty of care
  2. The hospital breached that duty by acting recklessly, which another professional in a similar case would not have done
  3. These actions caused you harm, such as unnecessary cancer treatment or no treatment at all that led to worsening symptoms
  4. Your harm resulted in monetary and non-monetary damages

Examples of Hospital Negligence

A medical professional may act recklessly and misdiagnose a patient’s cancer if they:

  • Don’t order appropriate tests
  • Neglect to follow up on tests
  • Don’t order additional tests
  • Neglect to collect or preserve blood work, urine samples, or biopsies properly
  • Fail to correctly interpret or report test results
  • Improperly train employees

Obey the Statute of Limitations

Ohio Revised Code §2305.113 says that a medical malpractice lawsuit must start within one year after the malpractice event. You’ll have one year after your misdiagnosis or wrong treatment to file a lawsuit.

Timeline for Parents or Guardians to File

If you are a parent or a guardian of a minor child or an adult child with a mental disability, the statute of limitations extends to four years. But you must not delay in filing a medical malpractice claim.

FAQs About Ohio Cancer Misdiagnosis

How do cancer misdiagnoses happen?

According to responses in a poll from physicians in Best Doctors, Inc., the following are the most common reasons for cancer misdiagnosis:

  • Missing Information:Nearly 39% of respondents said incomplete data in medical information systems contributed to cancer misdiagnosis.
  • Inadequate Pathology:22% of doctors attribute that misdiagnosis results from insufficient data to make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Incomplete Family or Personal History:More than 20% of respondents said that cancer misdiagnosis happens when patients fail to provide a complete family or personal medical history.

What if I didn’t notice a misdiagnosis immediately?

Suppose that in the first year after treatment, you find out that you were misdiagnosed. In that case, a written notice can extend your right to sue for 180 days. No matter what, written notice is required, and §2305.113 is very specific about how you must give notice.

What if I still don’t feel right after treatment?

If you know something is still not right after treatment, you should continue consulting with medical professionals. Suppose that within four years of consulting with medical professionals, it is determined that something was amiss with the original diagnosis/treatment. In that case, you have a year to file from this date.

Should I Get a Second Opinion?

Many doctors will advise you to get a second opinion, especially in the face of a vague diagnosis. Some studies show that second opinions don’t always lead to better health results, but they can lead to better medical decisions. A second set of eyes reviewing your case can reassure you that the diagnosis was accurate or that you need more tests before you begin an invasive treatment.

Medical professionals will not be offended if you ask for a second opinion, and with increased availability of virtual sessions, you can find a provider to match your convenience.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you discover your cancer diagnosis was false or delayed, it is crucial to seek the experience and knowledge of an Ohio medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Misdiagnosis-related claims or lawsuits can be highly complicated and often require a careful legal eye. At Kisling, Nestico, & Redick, LLC, our dedicated medical malpractice lawyers are ready to take on a negligent hospital and fight for the compensation you need to manage your health moving forward.

Contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney at KNR today. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.