Failing to diagnose cancer is a relatively common claim in medical malpractice
cases, both in New York and across the country. Generally, the case involves
the death of the patient after an extended time in which no treatment
took place because the doctor misdiagnosed the condition or failed to
diagnose it. By negligently failing to find something that other doctors
in the same situation would have normally found, the doctor is liable
for damages for medical malpractice in contributing to the patient's death.
In some instances, the cancerous condition would have ultimately been fatal
no matter what treatment was given. However, it can usually be proved
by expert medical testimony that several or even many additional years
could have been enjoyed by the decedent if the correct diagnosis had been
properly made early on. Those additional years are worth a recovery of
damages for their loss.
These facts generally occurred in a case filed in the Illinois courts.
The complaint alleges that the plaintiff had a tumor taken out of his
bladder area and the doctor told him it was cancer-free. However, a week
later a pathology report indicated bladder cancer, according to the complaint.
The suit alleges that the doctor did not inform the patient and did not
arrange for the patient to get treatment.
Over a year later the patient found out from another doctor that he had
bladder cancer, but it was too late, according to the complaint. The man
died a few months later, just after filing the lawsuit, which has now
been taken over by his daughter. Under required medical malpractice rules
in New York and elsewhere, the plaintiff must present expert medical testimony
indicating that the defendant doctor should have diagnosed the bladder
cancer and should have informed the patient accordingly. If the diagnosis
was not determined until a week later, the doctor may have been negligent
in not pursuing the patient to inform him fully of the situation and to
arrange for treatment or for transfer of the file to another physician.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Lawsuit: Doctor didn't inform patient of cancer",
Wes Venteicher, Sept. 11, 2014