What If My Doctor Misdiagnosed My Cancer?
Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose aren’t always harmful mistakes to patients. When the patient has cancer, though, diagnosis errors can mean the difference between life and death. If a doctor in San Francisco misdiagnosed your cancer case, resulting in a worsened prognosis, additional medical treatments, lost quality of life, the death of a loved one, or other damages, call our San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers and learn your rights as the victim of medical malpractice in California.
When Is a Cancer Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Not all misdiagnoses qualify as medical malpractice. No law requires doctors to make correct and accurate diagnoses every single time. Instead, the standards in the medical industry simply require that physicians and other diagnosing parties do their best to come to the correct diagnosis based on the facts presented. The following three elements are necessary for a medical malpractice claim:
- The defendant was your doctor at the time of the misdiagnosis. If the doctor was off-duty, such as a physician at a cocktail party or a family friend, the cancer misdiagnosis isn’t malpractice. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed at the time of the misdiagnosis for the physician to have owed you a professional duty of care.
- The doctor was negligent. Negligence is often the most difficult element to prove in medical malpractice cases. You must show the doctor was not reasonably skillful, careful, or competent in diagnosing your cancer. This may require an evaluation of the defendant and testimony from a “reasonable and prudent” medical expert.
- You suffered real damages because of the doctor’s negligence. Finally, you need proof the cancer misdiagnosis harmed you in some way. If you have a terminal type of cancer, for example, and a timely diagnosis would not have changed your prognosis, the physician might not be liable even if he or she did negligently misdiagnose your condition.
If your cancer misdiagnosis case fulfills all three of these elements, you likely have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the physician and/or healthcare facility. You could name the individual physician as the defendant if he or she is an independent contractor (the most common scenario), or the facility if the negligent physician was an employee. A San Francisco injury attorney can help you with the elements of your case in San Mateo.
Pursue Financial Compensation for a Cancer Misdiagnosis
A prompt diagnosis is critical to the patient’s health and well-being with an illness as serious and as fast moving as cancer. This is why cancer misdiagnoses often result in medical malpractice claims against the at-fault-physician. If a facility employee or a physician ignored a patient’s symptoms, failed to recommend a specialist, misinterpreted test results, improperly identified a specific kind of cancer, or didn’t follow up with a patient regarding treatment, he or she might be guilty of malpractice.
As the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis in San Francisco, you may be eligible for financial compensation from the at-fault doctor and/or healthcare facility. You will need to file a medical malpractice claim against the defendant(s) within the state’s deadline to start your case. Once you file your claim with the defendant’s insurance company, you will enter into settlement negotiations – unless the insurer denies your claim, in which case you can take your case to court.
You will need to comply with the state’s various related laws, including filing your initial claim within three years of the misdiagnosis or one year of the discovery of your injuries (such as the discovery that you have cancer instead of the other condition with which the doctor diagnosed you). A lawyer can help you navigate these laws, negotiate fair settlements with insurance companies, and even take your case to trial if necessary for full compensation. Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer is a great way to achieve successful results for your cancer misdiagnosis case.