Weitz and Luxenberg Lawyers Provide Legal Help for Medical Malpractice Clients
What is Failure to Diagnose?
Failure to diagnose occurs when a doctor or other medical professional is unable to properly identify a health condition or disease. Such a serious oversight can result in serious physical injury or the death of the patient. Failure to diagnose is especially bad because without an accurate diagnosis, the patient cannot be treated.
Weitz and Luxenberg believes it is tragic when a patient of any age needlessly suffers at the hands of a negligent doctor or medical professional. It is especially disconcerting when a patient undergoes treatment for cancer, only to be told that they never had cancer at all.
Incorrect Cancer Diagnosis Leads to Unnecessary Pain and Suffering
On July 19th, 2010, the New York Times reported the story of Monica Long, who had undergone a biopsy in 2007. Long, like many women, expected a routine appointment, but she was instead given the frightening news that she had breast cancer. Fortunately, her doctor told her, the cancer was in its earliest stages, but extensive surgery was required. By the end of the procedure, Ms. Long was left with a massive chunk of flesh missing from her right breast.
Unfortunately, Ms. Long’s nightmare had only just begun. In 2010, her oncologist told her that a mistake had been made- she never had breast cancer. All of the months of pain and suffering, debilitating radiation procedures, and drugs (as well as the psychological damage caused by undergoing such intensive treatment) had been in vain.
“Psychologically, it’s horrible,” Ms. Long admitted. “I never should have had to go through what I did.”
The Times reported that diagnosing Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (D.C.I.S), which was what Ms. Long was told she had, is “prone to both outright error and disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or malignant.” (The New York Times)
According to Dr. Shahla Masood, the director of pathology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, diagnosing D.C.I.S. “is a 30 year history of confusion, differences of opinions and under and overtreatment. There are studies that show that diagnosing these borderline breast lesions occasionally comes down to the flip of a coin.” (The New York Times)
In addition to the difficulties of diagnosing D.C.I.S, some doctors in the field of pathology have not reviewed enough biopsies to know how to recognize breast cancer in its earliest stages. Dr. Lihn Vi, the pathologist at Cheboygan Memorial Hospital who treated Ms. Long, “was not board certified, and only read about 50 biopsies each year.” Dr. Vi defended himself against harsh criticism from his more experienced colleagues, one of whom said that he “blew Ms. Long’s diagnosis.” (The New York Times)
The Times reported that more than 50,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with D.C.I.S. Hoping to address the increasing lack of accuracy in breast pathology, the College of American Pathologists announced that it would initiate a “voluntary certification program for pathologists who read breast tissue. One of the set mandates is that each pathologist must read at least 250 breast cases a year.” (The New York Times)
Weitz and Luxenberg Attorneys Can Aid Your Medical Malpractice Case
Weitz and Luxenberg believes that patients such as Ms. Long should never have to endure such a horrifying misdiagnosis. The debilitating treatments she had to endure impacted her overall health and wellbeing, and compromised the trust she had placed in her physicians. Ms. Long also suffered financially, having to pay for expensive, unnecessary treatments.
Medical malpractice is a serious offense, and the attorneys at Weitz and Luxenberg are ready, willing and able to assist you with your case. The attorneys in our medical malpractice unit are familiar with the standards to which medical professionals are held, and they understand how devastating it is when a health care provider fails to perform their duties sufficiently.
For a free legal consultation, please fill out the form on this page and a Weitz and Luxenberg attorney will contact you as soon as possible.
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