Failure to Diagnose Cancer and the Medical Standard of Care

 Posted on April 22, 2022 in Medical Malpractice

Chicago Medical Negligence LawyerDoctors are not magicians; they cannot simply look at someone and know what ails him or her. However, doctors and medical specialists are highly educated professionals who must complete years of training before practicing medicine. Consequently, we generally expect that doctors and other medical professionals will act with a reasonable degree of skill and competence. We assume that if they will take the appropriate steps to diagnose and treat whatever medical condition a patient suffers from.

But what happens when a doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition like cancer? Can failure to diagnose be the basis of a medical malpractice claim?

Early Diagnosis of Cancer is Key to Beating the Disease

The sooner cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can begin. When cancer is recognized early, doctors can start treating the cancer before it has a chance to spread throughout the body. When a cancer diagnosis is delayed, the cancerous cells have more time to spread and the chances of survival decrease. Screening tests like mammography, colonoscopy, CT scans, and blood tests can often detect the signs of cancer. When a doctor fails to order the appropriate tests, a patient may have cancer and not even know it.  

When is Failure to Diagnose a Type of Medical Negligence?  

Doctors and other medical professionals are bound by a duty of care. In other words, they are expected to act with a certain level of proficiency. Not all mistakes or oversights are considered medical negligence. However, when a doctor fails to uphold the duty of care and a patient is harmed as a result, the doctor may be considered negligent.

The “medical standard of care” is the gauge used to determine if a doctor’s actions constitute a breach of duty. To determine if the doctor was negligent, courts must determine if his or her actions deviated from the actions that a reasonably proficient doctor of the same education and training would have taken in the same situation. In the context of cancer diagnosis, the court must determine if the doctor’s failure to diagnose was caused by violating the medical standard of care. Would other doctors have made the same mistakes and oversights? Were there medical tests the doctor should have ordered but failed to? Should the doctor have referred the patient to a specialist?

Answering these types of questions on your own is nearly impossible. A medical malpractice lawyer can provide the insight needed in situations like this. Often, testimony from medical experts is required to determine whether a doctor’s actions deviated from the medical standard of care. If a doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer does harm a patient or lead to his or her preventable death, the doctor may be liable in a medical malpractice claim.

Contact Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one were the victim of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer, contact Winters Salzetta O'Brien & Richardson, LLC for help. Our skilled team of Chicago medical malpractice attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options. Call 312-236-6324 for a free consultation.



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