Receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer is always distressing, but in some cases not being diagnosed with lung cancer can present more of a risk. Though for the most part, we trust medical professionals to catch lung cancer at early enough stages that it may be successfully treated, in some cases patients are misdiagnosed as having other ailments while their lung cancer marches toward metastasis. In others, they are misdiagnosed with lung cancer and given harmful, life-changing treatments they never needed in the first place.
At Cooper Schall & Levy, our lung cancer misdiagnosis attorneys are well-prepared to fight for you. We have in-depth knowledge of the misery that follows an incorrect diagnosis and how it affects not only the patient victimized by medical malpractice, but the victim’s loved ones as well. Often the patient impacted is a primary wage earner, a primary caregiver, or both, and the ill effects of such a horrifying mistake make for a traumatic situation — physically, emotionally, and financially that ripples through the family.
Assuming that the quote “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know,” is true, a lung cancer misdiagnosis is a double threat. Nonetheless, too many patients face this “unknown devil” due to medical negligence that often morphs into medical malpractice. Considering that lung cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women (not counting skin cancer), misdiagnoses of the disease can result in harmful, unnecessary treatments at one end and uncontrolled lung cancer progression on the other.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer Can Be Misdiagnosed
Unfortunately, lung cancer shares symptoms with a variety of other diseases. In addition, it is possible for one patient to have more than one lung condition which may create confusion or result in a delay in diagnostic testing.
Although at its earliest stages, lung cancer may be asymptomatic, as it progresses it will likely produce symptoms including
- Persistent cough
- Recurring chest infections
- Changes in voice quality
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain when coughing or breathing
- Unintentional weight loss
- Coughing up blood
- Persistent fatigue
If a doctor does not take enough time examining the patient, taking a medical history, and administering all necessary diagnostic tests, she or he may misdiagnose lung cancer as
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lung Abscesses, Nodules or Effusion
- Bronchial Pneumonia
In some cases, by the time the doctor recognizes that the treatment has not worked or the patient’s symptoms have worsened, a significant period of time has passed during which the lung cancer has dangerously progressed.
In most cases of lung cancer, the earlier a correct diagnosis is made, the more hopeful the prognosis. This is why many times a doctor who has not ordered more testing or failed to refer the patient to a specialist is considered remiss for wasting valuable time. Tragically, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, lung cancer is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed cancers.
Reasons Lung Cancer Is Misdiagnosed
There are a number of obvious and underlying reasons for lung cancer misdiagnosis, but none of them justifies medical malpractice. As your lung cancer diagnosis attorneys, we are well aware of high-risk shortcuts doctors may take that often lead to trouble, such as:
- Hurried appointments keep physicians from paying close attention, investigating symptoms fully, reviewing notes and medical histories thoroughly. They may rush to judgment about why the patient has breathing difficulties (overexertion, out of shape) or wheezing (seasonal allergies, an upper respiratory infection).
- Some doctors delay in ordering diagnostic tests or referring patients to appropriate specialists because they mistakenly assume that the simplest, most common cause of symptoms is the correct diagnosis. Such physicians, unless pushed by worsening symptoms, will write out a prescription and not see the patient again for months.
- Failure to follow-up on abnormal findings can cost a patient dearly. A “wait and see” approach can be a terrible mistake if a patient has lung cancer. Ignoring the enlargement of a lymph node or a suspicious nodule may not only be negligent; it may prove fatal.
- Misread test results are often to blame for misdiagnoses. On such occasions, the fault may lie with the pathologist or radiologist whose sloppy work was not double-checked. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 90 percent of lung cancer misdiagnoses result from errors involving chest radiographs
No matter what the reason for the mistake that put your life in jeopardy or subjected you to unnecessary panic and uncomfortably or risky treatments, our lung cancer misdiagnosis attorneys will do everything possible to validate your claim of medical malpractice.
We Will Fight for Your Legal Right to Compensation
If you have endured real damages as a result of your misdiagnosis of lung cancer, we will fight aggressively to obtain the resources you need to recover in peace and to provide yourself and your family with a comfortable future.
We know that misdiagnosis can lead to any number of disturbing consequences, including:
- Radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery for lung cancer you never had
- Treatments with medication that has negative side effects or therapy that is uncomfortable and exhausting for an illness other than cancer that you never had
- Worsening of your lung cancer that went untreated because it was undiagnosed
- Loss of years of life you may have enjoyed if your cancer treatment had begun earlier
No matter what the circumstances are, our lung cancer misdiagnosis attorneys will stand by you, fighting doggedly for the resources you need to reimburse you for lost income, heightened medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Wrongful Death Due to a Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis
If you have lost a close relative to wrongful death as a result of a lung cancer misdiagnosis, we know that nothing we can do will make the situation right. Nevertheless, we will work hard and long to try to provide you with the substantial settlement you deserve to reimburse you for final medical costs, your loved one’s end-of-life misery, funeral or memorial costs, and your family’s loss of financial and emotional support.
Contact Our Experienced Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorneys to Take Control
We know how helpless you must feel now that the damage due to a lung cancer misdiagnosis has already been done. While we can’t undo the lung cancer misdiagnosis nor its repercussions, we can and will give you first-rate legal representation and put all of our effort into making things easier for you and your loved ones.
Cooper Schall & Levy medical malpractice lawyers serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as neighboring counties such as Montgomery County and Delaware County and cover neighborhoods such as Norristown and Drexel Hill.