8 Reasons Why Your Doctor Missed a Cancer Diagnosis

(STL.News) Although doctors are often revered in our culture as component and intelligent, they’re still human beings who are prone to mistakes.  Unfortunately, these mistakes have severe life-altering consequences for their patients, such as chronic illness, pain, and even death.

How Often Do Doctors Miss a Cancer Diagnosis?

A missed cancer diagnosis happens more often than you’d think.  A Johns Hopkins University study found that doctors miss a cancer diagnosis in 70 out of 6,000, but the numbers could be as high as 1,680 out of 6,000 when accounting for real statistics, not just doctor estimates.

This shows a significant gap between what doctors think and what’s true.  But this poses a double problem.  If doctors don’t know how often they misdiagnose, how will they know if there’s an ongoing issue in their performance?  How can they even begin to correct their behavior?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but the third leading cause is medical misdiagnosis.  Unless something is done, more people will suffer across the country.

If you were a victim of malpractice and live in Philadelphia, you should contact a delayed cancer diagnosis lawyer.  They can represent you if your case falls under the umbrella of malpractice.

Why Cancer Diagnoses are Often Missed

Unless the patient hides their symptoms or refuses treatment, the onus of fault usually rests with the doctors or the medical industry itself.  Here are 8 reasons why a missed diagnosis occurs.

The doctor doesn’t ask about the patient’s family history

While cancer isn’t solely genetic, most cancer types run in families.  That means you’re more likely to get breast cancer if one of your relatives had it in the past.  If the doctor asked about the patient’s family history, they may have realized their patient’s symptoms could likely be cancer.

The doctor doesn’t complete a thorough exam

Some doctors will hear their patient’s symptoms and think they’re unrelated or aren’t contributing to their illness.  This is a mistake, as some cancer symptoms appear less frequently and require more testing.

The doctor ignores or misinterprets a patient’s symptoms

Some doctors may undervalue or ignore symptoms, especially when their patient is female or obese.

The doctor doesn’t screen for cancer, even if it’s likely cancer

This also falls in the “ignoring” category, but in this instance, the doctor is ignoring more obvious signs.  The doctor may be negligent, overworked, or unfamiliar with specific cancers.

The doctor doesn’t refer the patient

Some doctors will refuse to refer their patients to a cancer specialist, but there’s no reason not to do this in the American healthcare system.  If you’re rejected, ask them to put that info on your chart.  You’ll be referred right away.

The doctor/lab/staff suffers from communication breakdown

Sometimes, the practice or hospital will lose information regarding a diagnosis or an appointment date.

The doctor/lab/staff misread test results

Cancer won’t always show up on a CT scan, MRI, mammogram, etc., so the tech may declare the test as negative.  Or, they may see cancer on the test results and misinterpret it as something else.

The doctor/lab/staff misdirects or mislabels the results

Small mistakes, like the wrong name on a test result, can cause another patient to be “diagnosed with cancer,” while the other receives a negative.  These mistakes affect two or more patients at once.

While it’s likely that your doctor didn’t intend to misdiagnose you, there’s no excuse for it.  A missed or delayed diagnosis can leave you confused and angry and possibly leave you fighting for your life.  Health care fraud happens every day, so it’s crucial to get a second opinion.