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Cancer misdiagnosis could be more common than we hope


Cancer is a word that makes many Floridians shudder, and rightly so. It seems as if everyone is affected by this disease in one way or another, and it can leave families utterly devastated. The good news is that advancing technologies are increasing survival rates and life expectancy of many cancer sufferers. However, these positive changes are often dependent upon early diagnosis. A failure to diagnose cancer or a delayed cancer diagnosis, on the other hand, can drastically affect one's chances of survival.

Unfortunately, cancer misdiagnosis is more common than we care to think. In fact, a study released last year found that more than 60 percent of doctors believed cancer misdiagnosis to occur in no more than 10 percent of cases, when statistics show a much gloomier reality. According to the BMJ Quality and Safety journal, about 28 percent of all cancer cases are misdiagnosed. The reasons for these missed diagnoses vary, but many agree that doctors are increasingly time-strapped, which could lead to preventable errors in diagnostics.

While a more efficient medical system could help protect patients from misdiagnosis, that ideal is far beyond the horizon. In the meantime, those who are injured by a delayed or missed diagnosis should consider taking legal action. By filing a lawsuit, victims may recover compensation that helps them afford the medical care they need and punishes those who were errant in providing the diagnosis.

While money may not make a medical malpractice victim whole again, it could serve as notice to medical professionals that they need to take care when diagnosing patients or pay the consequences. This might help protect future patients from befalling a similar fate.

Source: Boston Magazine, "Misdiagnosing Cancer is More Common Than We Think," Jamie Ducharme, Jan. 21, 2013

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