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A cancer diagnosis is a scary and devastating piece of news. Trusting your doctor to order the right tests is an important part of the treatment process, and a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis can have serious consequences for your health. A delayed cancer diagnosis is unavoidable in some circumstances, but if your doctor was negligent in investigating your symptoms or concerns, they may be legally liable. 

While money can’t directly buy a better health outcome, if you or a loved one is dealing with cancer that should have been caught earlier, financial compensation can help. Compensation can cover medical bills and missed work, as well as pain and emotional distress. A medical malpractice attorney can review your situation and help you determine the best way to move forward.

How Can a Doctor Fail to Diagnose Cancer?

Cancer isn’t a single disease, so there’s a lot of variation in whether a particular cancer will show symptoms or not and how complicated it is to diagnose. Understanding exactly what happened during the diagnosis process and how it affected the spread of your cancer is essential before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. A missed diagnosis can involve failing to order the right tests, misinterpreting test results, or dismissing your concerns entirely.

A doctor may not be legally liable for failing to diagnose cancer if the cancer didn’t cause obvious symptoms and you didn’t have any significant risk factors. If you have symptoms that are more likely to be associated with a certain type of cancer, you may have a case if your doctor does not consider it as a possible diagnosis. The diagnostic progress involves considering and ruling out potential causes for a patient’s symptoms. A malpractice investigation will review your doctor’s process to determine whether your doctor should have considered and tested for cancer.

Is Missing a Cancer Diagnosis Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice cases are complicated, but failure to diagnose cancer can be classified as medical malpractice depending on the circumstances. There are three parts to a medical malpractice claim, and you’ll need to prove that all three apply to your situation. They are: 

  • The doctor didn’t follow the proper standard of care when diagnosing and treating you. 
  • You were harmed by medical error or negligence. 
  • The negligence caused your injury. 

A court will consider whether your doctor ordered the appropriate tests and treatment based on their training and specialty. A doctor can be liable for a missed diagnosis if another doctor with similar training and experience should have diagnosed the cancer. This means if a specialist would have been able to catch your cancer sooner, your main doctor isn’t necessarily liable for failing to diagnose it. 

Medical malpractice cases require an actual injury to the patient in addition to a failure to follow the standard of care. This means that you’ll need to demonstrate that your cancer is more advanced now than it was at the point when a doctor should have diagnosed it. If the more serious disease will mean longer or more difficult treatment options with a lower chance of success, you’ll have a clear case for injury because of the delayed diagnosis.

What Compensation Could Be Available if the Doctor Is Liable?

If you do have a case for medical malpractice, there are several types of compensation you might be eligible for. First, economic damages are designed to compensate you for your financial losses. These include medical bills, lost income, and lost potential income in the future. If a loved one passed away because of a missed diagnosis, you may be able to seek damages for wrongful death

Non-economic damages are intended to provide compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of consortium. Loss of consortium damages are awarded to the surviving spouse after a death or serious injury because of the loss of their relationship with the deceased spouse. 

In California, there are limits on the non-economic damages you can receive in a medical malpractice case. In the case of a wrongful death, you can receive up to $500,000, and this limit will increase gradually to $1 million over the next 10 years. The limit for other malpractice cases is $350,000, which will gradually increase to $750,000. There is no limit to economic damages. 

Talk to a California Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Your Case Today

Early detection usually means better outcomes for cancer patients. Unfortunately, a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis can lead to a more advanced illness and treatment with more side effects and lower chances of success. Determining whether your doctor is legally liable for missing your diagnosis can be complicated, but you may still be able to receive compensation. 

The best way to determine if you have a medical malpractice case for a missed cancer diagnosis is to talk to a malpractice lawyer. Kash Legal has the experience to guide you through your case and help you get the best possible outcome. Call us at 888-527-4128 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation now.

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