Failure to Diagnose Cancer Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Attorney
In April 1991, Lesley Ivanjack was suffering from pain and loss of hearing in her right ear, and decided to visit her primary care physician. She was diagnosed with an ear infection. One month later, with no relief from the pain, she saw another doctor, an otolaryngologist, who agreed with the initial diagnosis. In June, she returned to the otolaryngologist, explaining that her pain had spread through the right side of her head. The doctor diagnosed her with tonsillitis. In September, her symptoms had not lessened. She was referred to an ENT specialist. The specialist took a biopsy from her neck. Ms. Ivanjack was diagnosed with Stage IV nasopharyngeal cancer, and immediately began treatment. After treatment concluded, she sued the otolaryngologist for his failure to diagnose the cancer and was awarded more than $1.5 million. Bond v. Ivanjack, 740 A.2d 968 (1999).
Thankfully, the otolaryngologist’s failure to diagnose cancer did not result in Ms. Ivanjack’s death. Other victims of these failures are not as lucky.
Generally, successful cancer treatment depends on early diagnosis. When cancer is diagnosed promptly, treatment can begin before the cancer spreads throughout the body and destroys cells. If prostate cancer is detected before it spreads to other body parts (still in the localized or regional stage), and treatment begins, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%. However, if it is detected only after it has spread to body parts away from the prostate, the five-year survival rate falls to 30%.
If a patient visits his or her doctor complaining of certain pains and has visible symptoms, the doctor should order several tests if the patient’s illness is unclear. Tests to diagnose cancer include a mammogram, colonoscopy, prostate exam, biopsy, EKG or ECG, Pap test, or an endoscopy. Blood tests are often utilized, as well.
Types of malpractice that may arise from a failure to diagnose cancer stem from: dismissing patient symptoms, failure to order the proper test, failing to follow through with other tests, misreading diagnostic tests (liability can come from the nurse or radiologist who analyzed the test results), or misdiagnosing the patient, which is what happened in Ms. Ivanjack’s case.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a medical professional’s failure to diagnose cancer, the attorneys at Cohen & Cohen can help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (202) 955-4529 for a free case evaluation.