Medical technology has come a long way in recent years. Only a few decades ago, survival rates for cancers, particularly aggressive cancers, were quite low. Patients could expect prolonged sickness while they underwent treatment, and many times they did not survive in the long term.
These days, many kinds of cancers have much better survival rates. Once patients seek treatment, they have a good chance of going into remission. Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis for cancers can drastically alter the outcome for cancer patients.
Cancer typically spreads and gets worse over time
You probably already know that there are hundreds of different kinds of cancers. Cancers are rapidly growing cells that don’t belong in your body. They cause a host of symptoms, from pain and discomfort to weight loss and skin lesions. There is no single diagnostic test that works for all kinds of cancers.
It is also, unfortunately, true that many kinds of cancers have similar symptoms to other medical issues or diseases. That may mean that a doctor errs in an initial diagnosis. Failing to diagnose can cause the cancer to metastasize. When that happens, it spreads to other tissues and organs in the body. Later stage cancers are much harder to treat and often have worse outcomes.
Diagnostic skills are a critical part of modern health care
One of the reasons that doctors spend so many years in school is that they learn how to properly diagnose medical conditions. When a doctor fails to properly evaluate symptoms or order a test, a patient may end up much sicker than they should be. A delay of a few weeks or a few months could be the difference between going into remission and eventually succumbing to cancer.
You rely on your doctor to understand the potential conditions related to your symptoms. Sadly, sometimes doctors don’t listen to patients who report serious symptoms.
Other times, they mistakenly assume the symptoms come from a less serious condition without testing the patient to rule out more serious potential causes. Failing to adequately rule out potentially deadly cancers as a cause of symptoms like rashes and headaches can leave patients untreated and in danger.
You have rights when a doctor fails to diagnose serious conditions
For patients whose doctor overlooked their cancer symptoms or who failed to diagnose for a significant period of time, that may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. You may have the right to compensation for medical costs and other losses, such as lost wages, that result from the failure to diagnose your cancer in a timely manner.
You should obtain copies of your medical records and document everything that happens once you believe that a doctor’s mistake has directly resulted in your worsening medical condition. This can help you seek compensation in the future.