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Pretty much everyone has either had cancer or knows someone who has. If you get it, you will have lots of questions: How did I get this? What type of cancer do I have? Will it spread? What are my treatment options? What happens next? So many questions, but the only reasonable and natural thing to do is to put your trust in your doctor.
A recent study discovered that the most common form of medical malpractice claims is the failure to diagnose, or misdiagnose, diseases and illnesses. Of these claims, the most frequently missed were cancer, particularly breast, colon, prostate, melanoma and lung cancers.
No one can predict or even prevent who gets cancer and who does not. Cancer is a very aggressive condition that tends to spread quickly and is out of anyone’s control, but the key to surviving cancer is early detection, diagnosis and treatment. When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, the patient often misses a critical time frame for effective treatment and it often can mean the difference between life and death.
Cancer, such as colon, breast and prostate cancer are very treatable in the early stages. Once cancer has spread to the blood or other organs, or has metastasized, treatment options and chances of survival are greatly reduced. Often, treatment for later cancer stages is typically more aggressive, resulting in additional pain, discomfort and loss of quality of life for the cancer patient.
But, not every misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is grounds for malpractice. The type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the symptoms and the actions taken by the doctors all are factors to consider when looking at medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose may be unavoidable, depending on the nature of a patient’s case. It is common for cancer to not exhibit clear signs or symptoms that are reasonably identifiable by medical professionals until the advanced stages. Sometimes, cancer symptoms may not even show at all.
So how do you know if you have a case?
In general, to have a case worth looking in to you need to show that a doctor should have looked for or diagnosed cancer and the time from when it should have been caught until it was caught was six months or more. When the delay is that long or longer you can often show that your cancer got much worse than it would have been had it been caught right away. This doesn’t guarantee a win if there is a lawsuit, but in Illinois if the delay is that long the case is worth investigating by a malpractice law firm.
The next logical question is how do you know if a doctor should have caught the cancer?
There’s no slam dunk to this either, but if the patient exhibited visible cancer signs and symptoms and no scans or blood tests were ordered, that is likely malpractice. If they misread an x-ray or CT scan or failed to perform a biopsy, that could be a case. Not recommending any follow up when there are warning signs is a problem too.
It’s important to know that for most cases you have two years from when you knew or should have known malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit, but no more than four years from when it happened. Bottom line is that if you think you might have a case you should act fast.
Malpractice lawsuits in Illinois do take time, but there are a handful of experienced law firms with an incredible track record of success. We would recommend you to one that has experience winning cases with the type of cancer you or a loved one are dealing with. Call us any time you’d like to discuss a case. It’s always free and none of the attorneys we recommend charge a penny unless they win the case.