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Washington D.C. Failure To Diagnose Breast Cancer Lawyer

A woman looks at a scan in a Washington D.C. hospital after finding out she has misdiagnosed breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. More than 275,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed annually in women in the U.S., the American Cancer Society says. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Unfortunately, diagnosing cancer can be difficult, and breast cancer is no exception.

Misdiagnosed Breast Cancer Can be Deadly

Because cancer is a progressive disease, early detection and treatment provides the best opportunity for survival. Physicians recommend that women perform monthly breast self-exams and undergo yearly mammograms between the ages of 45 and 54. A missed breast cancer diagnosis can allow breast cancer to spread unchecked and lead to unnecessary suffering.

If you have questions about the timing of a breast cancer diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, our law firm can review the facts of your case to determine whether a healthcare provider was negligent in missing the diagnosis at a crucial point in your care. We may be able to help you seek compensation for a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer.

At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, MD, JD & Associates, in Washington, D.C., our experienced medical malpractice attorneys are physicians as well as lawyers. Our law firm has more than three decades of experience handling cancer misdiagnosis and other claims.

If you have undergone life-altering treatment or a loved one of yours has unnecessarily died due to a healthcare provider’s failure to diagnose breast cancer, we can help you understand why it happened and pursue compensation on your behalf. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation.

How is Breast Cancer Misdiagnosed?

A study by the National Coalition on Health Care and Best Doctors, Inc. found that a majority of 400 doctors surveyed believed that up to 10 percent of patients are initially misdiagnosed. The research found, however, that the actual percentage could be as much as 28 percent.

A misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose breast cancer may occur despite a doctor’s full competence and proper care. But when a breast cancer misdiagnosis has occurred due to the doctor’s negligence or failure to order proper diagnostic tests, the patient or family members may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider.

Typical causes of a missed or incorrect diagnosis of breast cancer include:

  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Failure to order a mammogram or other appropriate testing
  • Failure to perform a biopsy on tissue that is abnormal
  • Failure to properly read or interpret breast cancer test results
  • Failure to refer to appropriate specialists
  • Communication errors
  • Equipment malfunctions.

Misdiagnosis can mean incorrectly telling a patient they have breast cancer, which leads to invasive and potentially harmful treatment they do not need, such as chemotherapy or surgery. For example, dark shadows on an X-ray may be interpreted as cancer but actually depict benign growths.

The common symptoms of breast cancer are:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Changes in the size or shape of a breast
  • Nipple tenderness
  • Milky or bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Dimpling or another change in skin texture.

Other conditions with the same or similar symptoms include:

  • Mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection
  • Fibroadenoma, solid, noncancerous lumps that occur most often in the breasts of women between the ages of 15 and 35
  • Fibrocystic breast changes, which can make breasts feel tender, lumpy or ropy and are normal changes in breast tissue.

Physician holding tablet showing cancer results.

Do I Have a Lawsuit Over a Late Breast Cancer Diagnosis?

To file a medical malpractice claim, the injured patient must be able to demonstrate four elements of negligence:

  • Duty of care. This requires proving the existence of a doctor-patient relationship.
  • Breach of duty of care. This requires evidence that the patient’s healthcare provider failed to provide a standard of care that a competent caregiver in similar circumstances would have delivered. In a case about a delayed or missed breast cancer diagnosis, you will need to prove that there was some evidence of your breast cancer that other physicians would have identified.
  • Causation. You will have to show that failure to provide proper care directly led to your injuries. This is not satisfied by the presence of breast cancer itself. This means showing that the breast cancer was needlessly allowed to progress, which led to harm you would not have suffered with a timely diagnosis. The timing of the eventual diagnosis, the stage of cancer diagnosed, and how it compares to the earliest opportunity for a physician to have diagnosed the cancer are crucial questions to address.
  • Compensable damages. You must show that the patient’s injuries can be made better with compensation. This refers to compensation for such injuries as medical expenses, lost income and, under medical malpractice law in Washington, D.C., pain and suffering and emotional distress.

To prepare a potential medical malpractice claim, we would obtain and review the patient’s medical records. The records would show doctor’s visits, which would presumably include the patient’s complaints of symptoms and the physician’s examinations and responses. This would need to show a deviation from the expected standard of care and how it exacerbated the plaintiff’s case of breast cancer.

At trial, testimony by outside medical experts would establish a national standard of care that a reasonably prudent doctor would have provided under the same or similar circumstances and compare the defendant’s course of action to that standard. Our medical experts, who would review the plaintiff’s records, would offer evidence that the deviation was an unacceptable error that led to compensable harm. It would be up to the defense’s experts to explain why the healthcare provider did not breach the duty of care.

Contact Our Washington D.C. Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one has needlessly suffered because your healthcare provider failed to make a timely diagnosis of breast cancer, you should speak with a lawyer who is also a medical doctor to evaluate your options under the law.

The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates in Washington, D.C., can carefully review your records and consult with knowledgeable medical professionals to determine your eligibility to seek compensation for the unnecessary ordeal you have undergone. Medical malpractice claims involving missed or delayed cancer diagnoses can be complex to prove. But our law firm, which focuses on medical malpractice, has recovered more than $100 million for clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland and elsewhere across the country.

To talk to experienced and insightful breast cancer misdiagnosis lawyers and doctors about your rights. Contact us today. Our initial legal consultations are free. We will only accept a fee after we have recovered compensation for you.

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