Finding out that a benign condition is actually cancerous or discovering that cancer treatments are not working for a patient can be very distressing. Naturally, you may be determined to sue the doctor. However, not every diagnostic error is tantamount to medical malpractice.
If you or your loved one has suffered due to what seems like doctor or hospital negligence, you need to understand what constitutes medical malpractice to determine if you have a viable claim.
Here's what you need to know.
Types of Cancer Malpractice Claims
The three most common scenarios that could lead to a cancer malpractice claim are failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and improper treatment.
Failure to Diagnose
Early detection and diagnosis of cancer can extend a patient's life significantly. If a doctor did not detect existing lumps or tumors in the body, was unable to make a connection between your symptoms and your medical condition, and therefore did not recommend a course of action, you may have a feasible medical malpractice claim.
Failure to diagnose may be in the form of the doctor not taking a mammogram, failing to conduct a biopsy on abnormal-looking tissue, failing to perform any test whatsoever, or overlooking basic symptoms.
Delays in diagnoses can cause cancer to grow and metastasize, leading to suffering and reduced life expectancy. Diagnostic delays may occur due to a host of factors such as overburdened laboratory staff, carelessness or physician inexperience.
While a failure to diagnose involves the doctor not providing a diagnosis at all, delayed diagnosis means the diagnosis was delivered but not in a timely manner.
In delayed diagnosis claims, the doctor may not have directly harmed a patient or caused their death. However, given that an early diagnosis would have likely prevented further harm or death, the doctor may be liable for the patient's outcomes.
Using faulty test devices and failing to accurately read test results are some of the causes of improper medical treatment.
An improper treatment claim could arise if it is determined that your doctor treated you in a way a competent doctor would not have.
A medical malpractice claim may also be viable if the doctor administered the right treatment in an incompetent manner.
Overall, if you believe that the treatment you received from your doctor was not sufficient to remedy your condition or that it worsened your cancer, you could have a claim.
Requirements for Filing Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Whether your case involved failure to diagnose, a delayed diagnosis, or improper treatment, there are specific requirements for filing a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
In Michigan, the time limit for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years from the time you incurred injuries from a cancer misdiagnosis or improper treatment.
You may be exempted from this provision if you are a victim of treatment fraud and your doctor was involved in the fraudulent act. For example, your doctor may have required you to purchase phony drugs that they knew were ineffective or could interfere with conventional cancer treatments.
Michigan medical malpractice law requires you to notify your doctor of your plans to pursue legal action at least 182 days before filing your claim.
Prior to the trial, you will need to obtain the expert opinion of an oncologist as to whether your doctor violated proper standards of care.
If you are considering legal action against your doctor, consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to determine the feasibility of your case.
At The Law Offices of Anthony M. Malizia, we are all about getting you justice. If you or your loved one has suffered at the hands of a doctor, get in touch with us today to discuss your legal options.