Diagnosing breast cancer in a timely manner can quite literally mean the difference between life and death for many women. The five-year survival rate for a woman with Stage 0 or Stage I breast cancer is nearly 100%, yet by the time the cancer reaches Stage IV, the survival rates drop down to about 22%, according to Cancer.org. Your healthcare team has the responsibility to take all actions possible to ensure you receive a rapid diagnosis of breast cancer, so treatment can commence as quickly as possible.
How Does Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Occur?
Failure to diagnose breast cancer could be the result of several missteps by different healthcare practitioners. Sometimes a doctor is to blame while, other times, a laboratory or hospital staff member could be at fault. Examples include:
- A doctor failing to take a patient’s symptoms seriously
- A doctor failing to notice a lump in the breast
- A doctor failing to order a mammogram or other appropriate tests
- A laboratory failing to properly administer screening tests
- Test results not being read accurately
- A doctor failing to order follow-up tests
- A radiologist misreading the results of a screening test
- A doctor failing to order a biopsy of a lump
- Healthcare providers failing to communicate with each other
- A doctor failing to report test results to the patient
To avoid errors, healthcare facilities and physicians should have processes and procedures in place, such as:
- Adhering to breast cancer screening guidelines
- Referring women who may be at risk
- Tracking and recording women’s breast exams
- Documenting a patient’s medical history, screening history, follow-ups, and exam findings
- Reminding at-risk women to have regular mammograms and screenings
- Recommending a biopsy of palpable breast lumps
Not detecting breast cancer in a timely fashion may be considered medical malpractice under the law. Each case is different, so consulting with an attorney can help determine whether your specific circumstances warrant legal action.
Consulting a professional Maryland or Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawyer helps ensure justice
Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. offers compassionate and comprehensive legal representation for women who were impacted by medical malpractice. We help women and their families in Washington D.C., Maryland, and beyond reclaim their lives after medical errors caused harm. To learn more, contact us today online, or by calling 410-234-1000.