The deadly consequences of a cancer misdiagnosis

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, it is devastating news that will change their lives overnight and bring a range of emotions to the surface. As grim as such news is, however, a misdiagnosis can be worse if it leads to aggressive treatments or delays in the correct diagnosis of the illness.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancers, and among the most frequently misdiagnosed. In some cases, the symptoms are similar to many other conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, COPD, or pneumonia. Because early diagnosis of lung cancer provides the best chance of survival in the patient, when a health care provider misses the signs or offers the wrong diagnosis, it may be too late to effectively treat later.

Medical history and signs of lung cancer

Because lung cancer is relatively asymptomatic in the early stages, doctors may rely on family history or the patient’s lifestyle choices to determine the level of risk. There is a much higher risk of lung cancer for both men and women who smoke, and also for those who inhale secondary smoke. Occupational exposure to radon, especially in the uranium mining and milling industry, can also cause lung cancer.

A physical exam can reveal symptoms, and a lung X-ray, biopsy or bronchoscopy may detect the type of cancer and determine if there are cancer cells in the lungs. Some symptoms that may point to lung cancer include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Facial swelling
  • Abdominal mass
  • Abnormal lung sounds

High levels of calcium in the blood may be symptomatic of lung cancer as well.

Lung cancer malpractice claims are the fourth highest of all malpractice lawsuits. Although lung cancer may quickly spread to other organs, bones, or adrenal glands, no matter where it is discovered, it is still considered to be lung cancer. If the cancer has spread or metastasized, the treating physician may be liable for a failure to diagnose.

How do you file a medical malpractice claim in Florida?

Under Florida law, the injured party must serve notice of intent to sue a healthcare provider before filing a medical malpractice claim, as well as submit an affidavit of merit from a recognized malpractice expert. After serving notice, if the healthcare provider does not wish to settle, the injured party has the remainder of a 90-day settlement period in which to file a lawsuit.

The cap on non-economic losses such as pain and suffering is $500,000 for most cases, with a $1,000,000 cap if the malpractice resulted in death. The statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years from discovery of the injury and four years from when the malpractice happened.

Many medical malpractice claims can be quite complex, and require not only credible expert witness testimony, but also comprehensive medical records. In addition, there may be several liable parties who may be responsible for a portion of damages. For residents of Pensacola, having experienced legal advocacy can make all the difference.

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