Unfortunately, stories of misdiagnoses are fairly common among people fighting cancer. While an accurate and prompt diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death, many doctors get the diagnosis wrong. In fact, according to the New York Times, about 28 percent of patients with cancer are misdiagnosed at first by doctors and pathologists. Undoubtedly, this is an incredibly high and startling number, especially considering the importance of a proper cancer diagnosis. Here is some information about the issue of cancer misdiagnosis.
Critical errors that lead to cancer misdiagnosis
Unfortunately, there are many critical errors that can lead to a cancer misdiagnosis. Some of these critical errors are the fault of the physician or the patient. Other critical errors are simply due to chance or equipment malfunction. Here are a few of the most common critical errors that can lead to the misdiagnosis of cancer.
1. Ignoring key symptoms
One common cause of a cancer misdiagnosis is that doctors may minimize or completely ignore symptoms that could be a sign of cancer. Some of these symptoms include digestive issues, bloating, unexpected weight loss, and fatigue. Physicians frequently attribute these symptoms to aging or less severe conditions and disorders. The patients who suffer the most from this critical error are young adults who otherwise appear to be healthy. Many doctors ignore the symptoms of these patients and don't even consider that the patient may have cancer. In some cases, patients may fail to bring up important symptoms.
2. Spending little time with the patient
Some cancer misdiagnoses occur because the physician doesn't spend a sufficient amount of time with the patient. All doctors should attempt to know their patients personally or at least have a good understanding of the medical history of each patient. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis based solely on the symptoms of the patient.
3. Unreliable processes and tools
The use of unreliable tools and processes in hospitals is another common critical error associated with cancer misdiagnoses. A hospital may use faulty equipment to run a test or staff may make small errors that cause samples and biopsies to be contaminated.
4. Lackluster hospital information systems
The vast majority of hospitals and clinics have systems for recordkeeping. However, these systems can fail and staff can forget to update records regularly. If the system malfunctions or the staff make a mistake just a single time, it can cause the physician to miss a key part of the patient's medical history, leading to a cancer misdiagnosis.
Unfortunately, cancer misdiagnoses are more common than many people think. If you have been harmed by a misdiagnosis, don't hesitate to contact an attorney from Law Offices of Gary Osborne & Associates. We can work on your behalf to ensure that the negligent parties are held accountable for their mistakes.