Can Medical Mistakes Lead to a Delayed Diagnosis of Cancer?

Diagnostic errors are one of the most common types of medical mistakes in the US. Depending on the type of illness that is misdiagnosed, you could die or suffer a severe injury. We recently wrote a blog discussing what could happen after a diagnostic mistake involving bacterial meningitis. Diagnostic errors involving cancer can also be deadly. There are several reasons why health care providers could get a cancer diagnosis wrong. Possible reasons include, but are not limited to:

  1. Your doctor could miss the early symptoms of cancer. They could mistake the symptoms with a less serious condition. As a result, you may not receive an accurate diagnosis until the cancer metastasizes to other parts of the body. This is only one of multiple reasons why early symptoms may be missed.
  2. A failure to test for cancer could lead to a misdiagnosis. Imaging tests could lead to additional testing that results in an accurate diagnosis. You could receive an incorrect diagnosis if these tests are never performed or if you are not referred to an oncologist.
  3. Lab technician mistakes could cause an inaccurate diagnosis. Certain technical or procedural errors made during lab tests could cause inaccurate results. Faulty testing equipment could also lead to a misdiagnosis.
  4. Your doctor could make other mistakes during the diagnostic process. Family or patient history may factor into an accurate diagnosis. You could receive an incorrect diagnosis if this information is not considered by the treating physician.

This is not an exhaustive list of what could lead to a delayed diagnosis of cancer. In such cases, patients may go for months without receiving life-saving treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery.

Is a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?

There are cases where a delayed cancer diagnosis could be medical malpractice. The Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC could help you make this determination. If you or a loved one were harmed by a diagnostic error, it would cost you nothing to speak with one of our attorneys.