What Are Some Important Issues In a Medical Malpractice Due to the Misdiagnosis of Cancer Case?

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a term for negligence by a medical professional.   It is defined as professional negligence by act or omission when the medical professional falls below the standard of care in the medical community for that professional.  Of course, that act or omission must also cause harm to the patient. 

Medical malpractice due to a misdiagnosis of a condition. 

A misdiagnosis medical malpractice case can arise when the doctor fails to follow the accepted methods, practices, or procedure to determine what the patient’s real problem is.  Making a correct medical diagnosis is crucial.  Unit you know the problem, you can’t fix it.  Likewise, a misdiagnosis can lead to treatment of a condition that the patient does not have.  That can lead to other obvious problems like side effects from that treatment, or a sense of complacency when the real condition is untreated.  For instance, you might treat that wrong condition with medication or treatments that are harmful to the patient while they provide no benefit because they are not helping treat the real condition.  A misdiagnosis medical malpractice case can be based upon the failure to diagnose a condition, or making the wrong diagnosis. 

Misdiagnosis of cancer medical malpractice case in Connecticut. 

One type of medical malpractice case based on a misdiagnosis is a misdiagnosis of cancer case.  There are many different types of cancer.  Different types of cancer have different diagnosis protocols, treatments, and prognosis.   Some cancers develop quickly.  Other types of cancer develop slowly.   Some cancers are effectively treated when they are diagnosed early.  Others are not.

Evaluate the type of doctor in the case.

As with any medical malpractice case in Connecticut, a misdiagnosis of cancer lawsuit starts with an evaluation of whether the defendant doctor failed to live up to the standard of care for a reasonable similar heath care provider under the circumstances.   The focus is on what a reasonable “similar health care provider” should have done.  

That means the starting point is to identify exactly what type of provider the defendant doctor is.  Is the defendant doctor a specialist, or are they a primary care, doctor for example.   You must start by examining the standard of care for that type of doctor.  The standard of care for a specialist will likely be different than the standard of care for a generalist.  Also, your “good faith certificate” must be from that same type of doctor.  So, you need to correctly identify your defendant doctor.

Determine whether the standard of care that was violated?

After you correctly identify the type of doctor the defendant doctor is, you must identify the standard of care for that type of doctor.  Here, you determine exactly what that doctor should have done differently that led to the harm in your case.   How did the doctor fail when they failed to diagnose the cancer?  Did they misread a film, MRI, or other test?  In order to determine the standard of care, you must obtain an expert witness to evaluate the facts of the case.  You will have to review the medical records.

Did the doctor’s negligence cause harm?

Next, you must link the breach of the standard of care to damages.   How did the negligence cause the harm?  In a failure to diagnose cancer case, you must evaluate whether the failure to diagnose the cancer has caused harm to the patient.   In other words, if the cancer was diagnosed correctly would the patient have been cured or how would the patient’s life been better.   What if the cancer had already advanced so far that nothing could have been done anyway?  Then even though the cancer was misdiagnosed, there was little or no actual harm because had it been correctly diagnosed nothing could have been done anyway.   That is an important issue in a failure to diagnose cancer case.

How to get your questions answered?

If you have questions you can contact The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C. 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, Connecticut at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut