Phoenix Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers
Do You Need A Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona?
Breast cancer kills about 40,000 people each year. However, the real tragedy is that it’s estimated 98% of all breast cancers are survivable if treated early. However, early detection of breast cancer requires a proper diagnosis. Breast cancer misdiagnoses occur where the doctor fails to correctly identify breast cancer, delays treatment, or even identifies a tumor that doesn’t exist. These can impact your health significantly.
Breast cancer misdiagnosis is, unfortunately, common. Experts estimate that 31% of all breast cancer cases are misdiagnosed. The errors can be as high as 71% if the doctor does not specialize in breast cancer. While some of these misdiagnoses are simple human errors, some can be linked to systematic or even blatant errors.
Let’s address what you should expect when seeing a doctor about breast cancer and how to receive the compensation you deserve if you don’t receive the treatment you needed.
How Common Are Breast Cancer Misdiagnoses In Arizona?
Regrettably, breast cancer misdiagnoses are common. It’s estimated 31% of all breast cancers are misdiagnosed. Some have even reported the error rates of misdiagnosing breast cancer can be as high as 71%. That’s why many recommend receiving a second opinion if you suspect breast cancer. You should seek out a breast cancer specialist. They misdiagnose cancer as little as 3%.
These statistics make breast cancer one of the most easily misdiagnosed cancers. That’s why despite the low lethality rates of early caught breast cancers, they are still one of the most lethal forms of cancer known.
The Importance of Avoiding A Misdiagnosis
Unfortunately, breast cancer misdiagnosis does occur under even the best circumstances, and there’s no way to eliminate the risk of a misdiagnosis. However, early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer is the best chance to give the patient the medical treatment they need to fight it.
Breast cancer is divided into multiple stages, from 0 to IV. Stage 0 is the least deadly (some even argue they’re just benign growths), while stage IV is the most lethal. The stages are divided by the size of the tumor, how far it has spread, including other organs, and if it has reached any lymph nodes.
|0||Non-invasive, localized, small||100%|
|I||1 inch in length or no localized tumor, but cancer cells found in other places||100%|
|II||Tumor between 1-2 inches, cancer found in other places and 1-3 lymph nodes||93%|
|III||Tumor larger than 2 inches, cancer found in 4-9 lymph nodes||72%|
|IV||“Advanced” or “metastatic,” spread beyond breast and lymph nodes||22%|
In general, the longer a cancerous tumor develops, the more likely the tumor will advance to a higher stage and become deadlier. However, there are exceptions.
Early detection of a breast cancer tumor means that treatment can begin at an early stage, which means you have a higher chance of survival after the treatment or even removing the tumor. A misdiagnosis could force you to miss this window when the tumor is more operable or treatable, and cancer could become more invasive after treatment.
In these cases, you may face several life-impacting consequences, including:
- Massive pain
- Harsh treatments (can be close to, if not as dangerous or painful, as cancer itself)
- Loss of abilities
- Loss of a job
- Need for assisted living
There are many tests doctors can perform to attempt to diagnose breast cancer, including:
- Mammograms - the most common test using X-ray images
- MRIs - an alternative to mammograms, generally known to catch cancers mammograms miss, but can miss cancers mammograms can detect
- Ultrasound – another alternative to mammograms that’s a commonly used option for pregnant women
- Biopsies - considered the gold standard used to “definitively” diagnose breast cancer. The doctor can remove tissue and cells from the breast and have them tested
Unfortunately, none of these tests are guaranteed. Keep in mind; doctors can spend over a decade learning how to read and interpret these tests and still misdiagnose breast cancer occasionally. Furthermore, one of the least common sources of any misdiagnosis is where the biopsy is performed on the wrong tissues or the wrong set of cells. In other words, even the “most definitive test” could show the wrong results.
Abnormalities in Breast Tissue for Misdiagnoses
There are many abnormalities commonly found in breast tissue that can be hard to distinguish from cancer. These include:
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Fat necrosis
- Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia
Some of these abnormalities are entirely harmless. However, it can be easy for a medical professional to distinguish any of these as cancer or vice versa. Sometimes a biopsy is misinterpreted.
One of the best ways to solve this is to receive a second opinion, especially from a specialist. Error rates for breast cancer diagnosis can be as high as 71%, but breast cancer specialists can lower this to 3%. They’re better trained to determine what’s a harmless abnormality and what’s a health risk.
However, most patients would be relieved to hear the abnormality isn’t breast cancer the first time. Therefore, they won’t ask the doctor for further tests, even if they do have cancer. Many patients settle for a single opinion.
When Breast Cancer Is Misdiagnosed In Phoenix, Arizona
No matter which test doctors use, there are many errors they can make while trying to detect cancer. Some of these errors include:
- Failing to examine you for breast cancer
- Failing to identify a sign of breast cancer during an exam
- Not listening to your expressed concern about potential signs of breast cancer or symptoms
- Not performing a mammogram or biopsy on a lump.
- Misinterpreting a mammogram: failing to identify cancerous tumors after the tests are performed
- Assuring you that the growth/lump is benign without making appropriate tests.
- Not encouraging or even discourage you from receiving regular preventative screenings.
Many of the cases where invasive breast cancer develops in patients happen because of a misdiagnosis or the failure to run specific tests. With 98% of breast cancers being fully treatable if caught early, a doctor’s duty should be to make sure you receive the tests necessary.
Suing for Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis With A Phoenix Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer
You can sue when a doctor misdiagnoses your cancer. Breast cancer misdiagnoses fall under personal injury law. Many lawsuits of breast cancer misdiagnosis are civil cases. This means a person is sued for compensation for lack of service or a lack of quality of services provided while the patient compensated the doctor.
However, there are cases where the misdiagnosis does fall under criminal law. This includes when the misdiagnosis was caused by discrimination, including racism - more about that in a moment.
Your Rights as A Patient In Phoenix And Throughout Arizona
When you go to the doctor, any patient’s most fundamental right is the right to informed consent. Informed consent means if you need treatment, your doctor should inform you about what treatment you need and possibly even the treatments’ risks. If they don’t do this or even force a decision onto you, such as refusing you service after consultation, they’re violating your rights.
Other rights can be addressed in a state’s bill of rights and other codes of law.
If you believe a doctor was negligent when you consulted them, you can attempt to prove malpractice. To prove medical malpractice, you need to prove four essential elements:
- Duty: You must show the doctor owed you a duty of medical care. This should always be present in any doctor-patient relationship as soon as consultation begins.
- Breach – Your doctor breached their duty by misdiagnosing your breast cancer when a competent doctor wouldn’t have. This is key because if a qualified doctor can’t say without a doubt, the results suggest cancer, there may be no case.
- Causation – The misdiagnosis and not some other factor caused your harm. Unfortunately, while misdiagnoses can occur with fault on the doctor’s part, there are many cases where the doctor did everything they could correctly, but invasive breast cancer still develops.
- Damages – The suffering you endured due to the misdiagnosis is quantifiable and compensable. You must prove there’s a value to the misdiagnosis. Even some situations, including the loss of companionship or suffering, must have some quantity.
Times When Misdiagnosis Cases Extend Under Criminal Law
This article previously mentioned how most misdiagnosis lawsuits fall under civil law. Those instances are where a patient tries to prove they didn’t receive the care they agreed to accept, and many of these cases result in a simple transaction, nothing more.
While a lack of services or quality of services is devastating, it isn’t always criminal. However, there are many times when misdiagnoses fall under criminal law, and the responsible party may face criminal legal consequences, including imprisonment or the permanent suspension of their medical license.
These include times when a misdiagnosis could have occurred because of:
- Gender discrimination
- Discrimination of sexual orientation
- Age discrimination
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, services can’t be refused because of:
- National Origin
And a recent 2020 US Supreme Court case ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex-based discrimination under the same Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ergo, people cannot be refused services because of their sexual orientation.
Even though the law is almost sixty years old, and many groups are continually addressing discrimination issues, there are still many cases where discrimination exists, medicine included.
Who Is Held Responsible For The Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?
The professional held responsible is the person who is tasked with the test, analysis, or diagnosis that inevitably led to the misdiagnosis. For instance, if the breast cancer specialist you consult claims there’s no cancer nor need to fret about any breast cancer concern you have, they can be held responsible.
However, if the breast cancer specialist ordered the test to diagnose cancer, and the radiologist failed to image or identify breast cancer correctly, they can be held responsible. There are some instances, though, where someone else along the line of communication of medical practice where someone else, including nurses, may be held responsible.
How to Determine Whether A Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Is Malpractice
Misdiagnoses are the most common cause of a malpractice suit. Breast cancer misdiagnoses are common, but they aren’t always classified as malpractice.
A misdiagnosis could be from an honest mistake. However, the misdiagnosis could become malpractice if the misdiagnosis is a result of an action that’s:
- Potentially illegal
One straightforward way courts can determine if malpractice occurs is to bring in a medical expert who’s certified or otherwise clearly competent to determine if the diagnosis was accurate given the results. If another medical expert claims the original doctor should have diagnosed the
patient with cancer, this could easily show the misdiagnosis is malpractice because it demonstrates the doctor who first made the diagnosis showed incompetence.
However, this may be tricky. Many results could be questionable, or it could even be argued there was no reason to believe there was cancer or a lack thereof.
For instance, a mammogram image may appear as an image showing no cancer. It’s known as a false negative, and though data varies, they’re common. After all, mammograms are known to miss some cancers, especially small ones. Because of this, there are some situations where lawyers will claim further testing is needed even if the test was near perfect.
For instance, if there’s an obvious lump observed by a clinical breast exam (where the breasts are examined by look and touch), some may argue further tests were needed, including:
- On some occasions, even a biopsy
When a clear sign of breast cancer is present, any doctor should attempt more than one test, including just one mammogram.
Are There Times Where the Doctor Was Reasonable In Choosing Not To Perform Further Tests?
Yes. One thing to keep in mind is that no tests, aside from a clinical breast exam is without risk. Mammograms may use small amounts of radiation, equivalent to half of the background radiation you could have in a year. Still, even that small amount could cause medical complications, especially if you’re pregnant.
MRIs and even ultrasound aren’t without risk.
Biopsies can leave scars and even damage crucial tissues. Furthermore, there are risks of infection when performing a biopsy, which could be lethal depending on your health. And keep in mind, it’s hard to do a biopsy on cancer where there’s no obvious lump nor a clear image of the abnormality.
A doctor needs to assess the risks of these tests versus the chances you have cancer. However, if you, as the patient, are genuinely concerned with cancer, a doctor should assess the risks you may take to make an informed, consensual decision. A doctor should not stubbornly refuse you a medical service you’re requesting.
Can There Be Other Types of Misdiagnoses Aside From Failing To Detect The Cancer?
One of the most common types of malpractice doctors could responsible for is a delay in diagnosis.
It can commonly be found in many medical cases and frequently among minorities or less protected demographics.
There’s no established time span in which anything would be considered an actual delay, but they can be brought to legal attention. In general, a skilled Phoenix breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyer will consider a delay of over six months in diagnosis and treatment as the minimum time in which such a delay would significantly affect someone’s health.
Of course, there may be other factors playing a role in the case.
Over-Diagnosing Breast Cancer Is Another Serious Type Of Malpractice
Over-diagnosing is a form of misdiagnosing where you could be diagnosed with breast cancer while you don’t have any cancerous growth. These are surprisingly common. Estimates claim breast cancer over-diagnoses rates by a doctor could be as high as 54% depending on the doctor or the complexity of the growth.
Over-diagnosis of breast cancer can be just as harmful. In these situations, you could receive surgery or treatment for cancer you never had. The surgery or treatments are very harsh, sometimes even as dangerous as breast cancer itself.
A Look at Real Life Over-Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
There was a unique case where a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer by two individual hospitals. She had a biopsy, “the surest way to detect breast cancer,” which yielded positive results.
She received chemotherapy for cancer to find out later she was receiving it for cancer that didn’t exist. The biopsy she received was for a benign lesion, which was non-cancerous. So how could this happen?
The biopsy results of these lesions can be confused with either cancerous and non-cancerous biopsy results. Unfortunately, the first biopsy results were questionable at best as to whether the growth was cancer or not. A needle biopsy is not always sufficient to distinguish the two.
Like a large needle or surgical biopsy, a different type of biopsy could have better distinguished that. Either biopsy is more physically and emotionally taxing than a needle biopsy, but significantly less physically and emotionally taxing than chemotherapy drugs.
Either way, in this specific case, a medical expert observed the first biopsy and determined the results were inconclusive. That indicated a competent doctor should have determined further tests were needed before the final diagnosis. Then the woman wouldn’t have needed the chemotherapy, which always takes a toll.
Is It Difficult For A Phoenix Medical Malpractice Lawyer To Prove A Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis?
It can be challenging to prove a breast cancer misdiagnosis of any kind. It’s always possible a doctor tested you and showed no cancer only for a new tumor to show up. Furthermore, it’s always possible to have more than one tumor. In the opposite case, it’s always possible for a tumor to remiss on its own and disappear.
To prove you’ve been misdiagnosed with breast cancer, you must prove the cancer is the same lump as before. It’s crucial to take notes during a doctor visit and be sure of where the cancer was found and where your lump or abnormality was.
How Much Is A Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Case Worth?
It depends on the situation. It isn’t easy to estimate without consulting a Phoenix breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyer first. Misdiagnosis cases can especially be damaging. Earnings can fall into two different categories:
- Economic – Clearly quantifiable costs, including loss of earnings or cost of care
- Non-economic – Costs that aren’t quantifiable but could be associated as reasonable compensation for a misdiagnosis. These costs aren’t easily quantified. Sometimes they’re capped or harder to obtain. These costs can be related to:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of social standing
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
It isn’t unheard of for these misdiagnosis cases to be worth over a million dollars, especially if the misdiagnosis resulted in wrongful death.
How To Make A Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Case In Arizona
To begin a misdiagnosis case in Arizona, it’s imperative to consult an experienced Phoenix breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyer to determine your next steps.
Taking on a case of this magnitude is complex and requires experts. You’ll need lawyers who can advise you on what information you need for the case and who’ll plan a complete strategy to secure the maximum compensation available to you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. If we’re a good fit and decide to move forward, there are no fees unless we win your case in court or negotiate a settlement.
What Is Special in the State Of Arizona Regarding Medical Malpractice Cases?
Arizona has special statutes related to medical malpractice compared to its neighboring states.
- You only have two years to file the complaint from the date of the event causing harm. The exception to that rule is if the individual is under 18. Cancer is erratic, and new tumors could always occur. Many states have similar or even shorter statutes. For example, in California, the statute lasts one year.
- Arizona state law does not require mandatory arbitration, mediation, or submission of a medical malpractice case to a screening panel.
- The state of Arizona doesn’t mandate a preliminary written medical expert affidavit. That means a malpractice case doesn’t require a medical expert’s written statement to be submitted as evidence of the malpractice.
- Arizona is one of the few states that doesn’t cap rewards for medical malpractice cases.
Concluding Thoughts On Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis And Related Medical Malpractice
Unfortunately, even with impressive progress, scientists and doctors have made towards diagnosing and treating breast cancer, many errors still occur.
Some of these errors are honest mistakes. Accidents can happen, but many can be easily avoided.
If you believe you’ve received inadequate or unfair medical attention related to a breast cancer diagnosis, you can and should seek out the compensation you deserve.
What Will It Cost To Hire A Phoenix Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer?
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You won’t pay any upfront expenses. There are no attorney fees unless we prevail by negotiating a settlement on your behalf or winning your case in court. We only accept cases we believe we can win. Again, we don’t collect any fees until we deliver payment for your case.
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Bradley J. Myers
Personal Injury Attorney
As an Arizona Bar member, Brad Myers has been aiding injured clients since 2004. One of the many characteristics that separate Brad from other personal injury attorneys is the individual consideration he gives to his clients and their unique circumstances. When Brad isn’t occupied with fighting for his clients, he enjoys spending time with his wife, his parents, his sister, and his niece and nephew, all living in the Scottsdale area.
Personal Injury Lawyer
As an owner/partner of Kane, Temple, & Myers, PLLC, Jefferson is dedicated to rendering the best possible customer service to all of his clients. No matter the range of injuries his clients have sustained, he does whatever it takes to ensure they receive the maximum possible settlement for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
Personal Injury Attorney
As an owner/partner of Kane, Temple, & Myers, PLLC, Michael prides himself in rendering the most leading standard of legal representation to his injury clients. Using his previous background as a defense attorney, he understands how to handle all aspects of a personal injury case. This includes taking a case to trial to obtain the full compensation his clients deserve.
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