hat You Need to Prove to Win a Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
In a malpractice suit based on a misdiagnosis of cancer, the plaintiff needs to prove three elements: duty, breach, and damages.
- Duty. In cancer misdiagnosis cases, the “duty” element is satisfied by proving that a doctor-patient relationship existed. The existence of a doctor-patient relationship is usually obvious, but is more ambiguous in others (e.g., on-call doctors). For Maryland law on determining doctor-patient relationships see Sterling v. Johns Hopkins. (Duty is rarely an issue in 99% of cases.)
- Breach. The element of “breach” is established by proving that the cancer misdiagnosis was due to the doctor's failure to conform to the applicable medical standard of care. In almost every case, our cancer misdiagnosis lawyers are trying to prove that the doctor made a mistake that a reasonably prudent doctor would not have made.
- Damages. Plaintiffs in cancer misdiagnosis cases must prove that they were actually harmed or injured by the failure to timely diagnose their cancer. In other words, the plaintiff needs to show that the misdiagnosis made their cancer less treatable, or somehow changed their outlook to get compensation. This is often a contested issue missed malignancy claims. Defense lawyers in cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits often argue that the plaintiff would have died even if the diagnosis was timely made.
Misdiagnosis of cancer is much more common than most people assume. In fact, cancer is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed medical conditions.
A new study indicates that cancer is misdiagnosed more than 10% of the time. Which cancers are the most frequently misdiagnosed? One study found that lymphoma, breast cancer, sarcomas, and melanoma top the list. Read up on these cancers and you will find a leitmotif: your best chance of beating these cancers is to catch them early.
How many of these misdiagnosis errors are viable medical malpractice claims? There are vast complexities associated with the development of a disease like cancer.
Not every missed cancer diagnosis lawsuit should lead to a medical malpractice claim. You cannot say that there is compensable damage or injury in every negligent misdiagnosis of cancer. But for too many, it is a difference between life and death.
- Sample malpractice claims against oncologists and the amount of the verdicts and settlements
- Learn more about misdiagnosis cases generally and the value of these claims
The median malpractice verdict in cancer-related malpractice cases is $1.75 million. The average verdict is much higher but we do not have the exact statistics. The vast majority of these cancer cases are misdiagnosis lawsuits.
A median or average verdict does not tell you a ton about the settlement compensation payout you can expect for your claim. If you look at the list below on specific types of cancers, you can get average settlement payouts for cancer misdiagnosis for specific types of cancer This may be more illuminating in drilling down on the settlement value of your case. Still, the reality is that cancer misdiagnois settlement amounts are dependent on the unique facts of the case.Settlements and Verdicts in Cancer Misdiagnosis Cases
- 2019 Maryland - $2,582,529 Verdict: A 56-year-old woman developed a lump in her breast. She underwent a mammogram and an ultrasound at Advanced Radiology, the largest medical imaging provider in Maryland. The radiologist interpreted the results as normal. A year later, the woman was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. She died three years later. Her family alleged that the radiologist’s negligence prevented her from timely receiving life-saving treatments. Her malpractice lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging the radiologist improperly interpreted the woman’s test results and should have made a referral for further diagnostic testing. Advanced Radiology argued at trial that an earlier diagnosis would not have saved her life (classic cancer causation defense). The Baltimore County jury that heard the case obviously disagreed.
- 2019 California - $887,806 Settlement: A 47-year old plaintiff died after a botched needle aspiration biopsy by the defendants causes a 4-month delay in the diagnosis of very aggressive breast cancer. Is a four-month delay long enough for a viable malpractice case? It really depends on too many factors to make a general rule for how long of a delay is too long. The average payout for cancer misdignosis is contingent in part on the length of delay the misdiagnosis caused.
- 2019 New York - $4,500,000 Settlement: A radiologist identifies colon cancer on CT scans but negligently fails to directly notify the patient or referring doctor of the findings resulting in a 19 months delay in treatment of colon cancer.
- 2019 Washington DC - $680,000 Verdict: The defendant radiologist misinterpreted mammogram imaging and failed to identify breast tumor resulting in over a year delay in treatment. As a result of the delay, the plaintiff had to undergo a double mastectomy, chemo, and numerous reconstructive surgeries.
- 2018 Pennsylvania - $450,000 Settlement: Despite a significant family history of colon cancer, the patient's primary care doctor did not schedule routine colonoscopies and screening at recommended intervals. The patient’s colon cancer goes undiagnosed. He dies and his family sues the primary care doctor for negligent care.
- 2017 Maryland - $461,862 Verdict: A 79-year-old man with a history of tobacco smoking underwent two chest CT scans within three years. He was never informed of any issues with either of them. Two years after his second chest CT, the man was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Despite undergoing treatment, he died two years later. The man’s family hired an attorney who alleged that the four treating physicians’ negligence caused a delayed lung cancer diagnosis that prevented him from lifesaving treatment. The jury found one of those doctors responsible. It seems like the jury reduced the amount of the award because the family sought compensation for a smoker who got lung cancer. Lung cancer may be the most commonly misdiagnosed cancer but many lawyers steer clear of these cases because most misdiagnosis victims are smokers.
- 2017 Maryland - $495,000 Verdict: This is a kidney cancer misdiagnosis case, again involving Advanced Radiology. An elderly man in his 80s has internal symptoms and gets a CT scan done to rule out kidney cancer. Radiologist at Advanced Radiology in Baltimore County fails to identify signs of cancer on images resulting in a 2-year delay in diagnosis of kidney cancer. The patient dies shortly after and his family hired a Maryland cancer misdiagnosis lawyer and sues for wrongful death. This is another Maryland case where the verdict seems low for a wrongful death.
- 2017 Maryland - $1,000,000 Verdict: (Uterus Cancer Misdiagnosis) OB/GYN sends out tissue samples to screen for cancer. The pathologist diagnoses a "smooth muscle tumor of uncertain malignant potential" and recommends close clinical follow-up. Defendant OB/GYN does essentially no clinical follow-up and 2.5 years later the plaintiff is diagnosed with uterus cancer that has spread to her lungs. Plaintiff sues alleging that the OB/GYN was negligent in failing to conduct follow-up, including periodic CT scans that would have led to a timely diagnosis.
Yes. If a doctor fails to diagnose your cancer because of negligent care or a mistake, you can sue for medical malpractice. Missed cancer diagnosis lawsuits are common. In fact, failure to diagnose cancer is one of the most common types of medical mistake claims our medical malpractice lawyers see.
Some estimates suggest one-third of misdiagnosis errors involve cancer. Some common examples of medical negligence in cancer misdiagnosis cases include failure to identify tumors on radiology images and failure to order appropriate testing.
The average settlement compensation in a failure to diagnose cancer lawsuit is between $300,000 and $600,000. Cancer misdiagnosis cases have a somewhat lower average settlement payouts than other types of medical negligence cases because of these challenges in proving many of these claims.
The most frequently misdiagnosed cancers are breast cancer, colon cancer, lymphoma, and lung cancer. There are a variety of factors that make these cancers more problematic to diagnose.
The cancer misdiagnosis attorneys at Miller & Zois have experience handling medical malpractice cases from start to finish. We have had a history of success. Our missed cancer lawyers have the right experts and the resources and experience to put you in a position to win your case and get the compensation you richly deserve. There are no fees or expenses - none - unless we win a financial recovery for you.
Call us today to review your claim at 800-553-8082. You can also get a free online consultation and case evaluation.