Many of us have known and loved someone who has battled breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in America in 2021, there will have been 284,200 new breast cancer cases and 43,600 breast cancer deaths. In fact, according to a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer accounts for 12% of new cancer cases globally, surpassing lung cancer as the most common form of the disease. As a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer, I am all too familiar with a serious issue many breast cancer patients face: the disease is commonly misdiagnosed. In many cases, the misdiagnosis of breast cancer constitutes medical malpractice, entitling victims to damages in a legal case. In this article, I’ll discuss the common forms of breast cancer misdiagnosis, factors that influence whether a misdiagnosis constitutes medical malpractice, and when Buttafuoco & Associates may be able to help.
Common Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
Despite many major advancements in breast cancer treatment and testing that have arrived in the 21st century, breast cancer is still frequently misdiagnosed. This is because a number of conditions share common symptoms with breast cancer. These symptoms may include:
- lumps on the breast or under the arm
- pain and/or swelling of the nipple or any area of the breast
- nipple discharge (aside from breast milk)
This leads to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Some of the conditions with overlapping symptoms include:
- Benign tumors or cysts
- Fat necrosis
- Duct ectasia
- Fibrocystic Breast Disease
- Granular cell tumor
- Phyllodes tumor
Is My Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
In order to build a successful case, a medical malpractice lawyer serving New Jersey must establish the medical professional who was treating you was negligent in their professional capacity in diagnosing your cancer. You may have read or heard the term “medical negligence,” which means a medical professional has failed to provide the “standard of care” that is expected of all doctors facing a similar scenario. Medical negligence rises to the level of medical malpractice when the failure to provide a sufficient standard of care causes direct harm to the patient. Some examples of medical negligence might include:
- A doctor fails to order the proper cancer tests for your symptoms
- The test procedures were followed improperly, leading to a misdiagnosis
- A doctor misidentifies symptoms that would have likely been correctly identified by another doctor.
Keep in mind “standard of care” can vary from patient to patient, depending on things like age, condition, and medical history, and each case is different. The relativity of the “standard of care” is a difficult and complex part of any medical malpractice case that a Buttafuoco & Associates attorney can help you navigate if you have a case.
Statute of Limitations in New Jersey
A key aspect of medical malpractice claims is the statute of limitations that applies in New Jersey. In New Jersey, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years of the medical negligence that caused the patient’s harm. Given diseases like cancer can progress slowly and go undetected for years, however, in some cases the deadline for filing a malpractice suit may be more flexible.
In this case, you and your New Jersey medical malpractice attorney will be making use of the “discovery rule”. Under this rule, the plaintiff may file within two years of when they discovered (or could have discovered) that the medical negligence caused the patient harm. As you can imagine, the timeline for the statute of limitations under the discovery rule can be incredibly complex. It is best to consult with Buttafuoco & Associates medical malpractice attorney in Northern New Jersey to see if your case is still within the statute of limitations.
If you have questions about whether your breast cancer misdiagnosis qualifies as medical malpractice, get in touch with an attorney today.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review today.