Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, second only to skin cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, the national rate of new cancers in 2020 is 119.2 per 100,000 women. New Jersey, however, exceeds that with a rate of 127.6 per 100,000, the 11th highest rate of breast cancer among states in the U.S.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, our Northern New Jersey breast cancer lawyers tell us that while this condition is common and we have excellent detection methods, breast cancer is frequently misdiagnosed. In this article, we’ll discuss the common reasons for breast cancer misdiagnosis, the consequences, and how to tell if your misdiagnosis is medical malpractice.
4 Common Reasons for Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
Our Northern New Jersey breast cancer attorneys commonly address breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits due to several factors, including:
- Misinterpreted Imaging: Errors in reading mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRIs can lead to missed or incorrect diagnoses.
- Pathology Mistakes: Misinterpretation of biopsy results or breast tissue samples may result in an inaccurate diagnosis.
- Inadequate Testing: Insufficient or improper testing, such as not ordering a biopsy when necessary, can lead to misdiagnosis.
- Symptom Overlap: Some breast cancer symptoms, like lumps or breast pain, can resemble benign conditions, leading to diagnostic confusion.
Consequences of Misdiagnosis
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we specialize in medical malpractice cases, so we’re familiar with the severe consequences of a breast cancer misdiagnosis:
- Delayed Medical Treatment: When breast cancer is misdiagnosed as a benign condition due to similar symptoms, it can lead to more advanced stages. This can lead to more invasive and expensive treatments.
- Health Complications from Incorrect Treatment: Many cancer treatments are invasive and have serious side effects. This often occurs when a less serious condition is diagnosed as cancer, which is sometimes called a false diagnosis. A false breast cancer diagnosis can lead to unnecessary surgeries, needless chemotherapy, and a mountain of pointless medical bills.
Is my Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Misdiagnosis and medical malpractice, often referred to as medical negligence, is the legal term for professional misconduct or substandard care by healthcare providers that results in harm to the patient. According to our breast cancer lawyers serving Northern New Jersey, the essential components in any malpractice case include:
- Establish Doctor-Patient Relationship: To pursue a medical malpractice claim, it must be demonstrated that there was a doctor-patient relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. We often think of this as your physician, but anyone involved in the diagnostic or treatment process can be liable for malpractice, including nurses, imaging technicians, or any other medical staff.
- Demonstrate Negligence: The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached their duty to provide the appropriate standard of care. In simple terms, this means that the medical professional did not provide the level of care that another competent professional would have provided. In the context of a cancer misdiagnosis, negligence might involve failing to order necessary tests, misinterpreting test results, or misidentifying symptoms.
- Link Negligence to Harm: It’s crucial to establish a direct link between the medical professional’s negligence and the resulting injury. In breast cancer misdiagnosis cases, this often means showing that a delay to diagnose breast cancer allowed the cancer to progress.
- Seek Specific Damages: The plaintiff should seek quantifiable damages, which can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages or diminished earning capacity, or pain and suffering.
Proving medical negligence can be complicated, so we recommend working with a breast cancer attorney in Northern New Jersey early in the process. Successfully proving malpractice requires a thorough understanding of these elements and compelling evidence to support each aspect of the claim. Legal guidance and expert testimony are often crucial in building a strong breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm, unnecessary medical expenses, or wrongful death, get in touch with Buttafuoco & Associates. We’re here to support those who have been harmed by missed or delayed diagnosis or other medical errors.
Contact us for a free consultation and let us help you seek the compensation you deserve.