| Read Time: 4 minutes | Medical Malpractice
breast cancer misdiagnosis

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be one of life’s most challenging moments. However, imagine going through the emotional rollercoaster of a breast cancer diagnosis only to find out later that it could have been identified earlier.

The misdiagnosis of breast cancer is a devastating experience that can have long-lasting effects on your physical and emotional well-being. If you or a loved one have been through this ordeal, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and the compensation you may be entitled to.

Below, our New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers go over the ins and outs of suing for a breast cancer misdiagnosis. If you have any questions, please contact us today.

Medical Malpractice and Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis

A breast cancer misdiagnosis can be considered a form of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession, resulting in harm to the patient.

In the context of breast cancer, a misdiagnosis can lead to delayed or improper treatment, causing significant physical, emotional, and financial harm to the patient. 

Several factors can contribute to a breast cancer misdiagnosis, leading to delays in treatment or incorrect treatment plans. Here are some common factors:

  • Interpretation of imaging tests—radiologists may misinterpret mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRI scans, leading to either a false positive (indicating cancer where there is none) or a false negative (missing cancer that is present);
  • Biopsy errors—pathologists may make errors when examining tissue samples obtained through biopsies, resulting in an incorrect diagnosis of benign conditions or missing cancerous cells;
  • Failure to follow-up—healthcare providers may fail to follow up on abnormal test results or symptoms reported by the patient;
  • Inadequate screening—some patients may not receive appropriate screening based on their risk factors, age, or family history;
  • Patient factors—patients may not recognize or report symptoms, or they may delay seeking medical attention;
  • Communication issues—poor communication between healthcare providers, such as delays in sharing test results or incomplete medical records;
  • Atypical presentations—breast cancer can present in unusual ways, such as in young women or men, or with symptoms that mimic other benign conditions;
  • Provider experience—less experienced healthcare providers may be more prone to diagnostic errors compared to specialists with extensive training and experience;
  • Technological limitations—some imaging technologies may have limitations in detecting certain types of breast cancer, especially in dense breast tissue; and
  • Diagnostic criteria—evolving diagnostic criteria and guidelines for breast cancer screening and diagnosis can sometimes lead to variability in interpretations and decisions regarding follow-up testing.

Addressing these factors requires healthcare professionals to take a comprehensive approach that includes the following: 

  • Improving communication among providers, 
  • Ensuring access to quality screening and diagnostic tools, 
  • Promoting patient education and awareness, and 
  • Providing ongoing training and support for healthcare professionals involved in breast cancer diagnosis and care.

This comprehensive approach could help to alleviate errors and improve patient outcomes.

Who Is Liable?

Several parties can be held liable for a breast cancer misdiagnosis, including doctors, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, and healthcare facilities.

Liability can arise from errors in interpreting mammograms, biopsies, or other diagnostic tests, as well as from failing to order appropriate tests or follow-up appointments.

Your Legal Rights and Moving Forward

If someone has experienced a breast cancer misdiagnosis, they have several legal rights they can exercise to seek justice and compensation for their harm.

Right to Legal Action

Victims of medical malpractice have the right to pursue legal action against the responsible healthcare providers or facilities. They can seek legal remedies through a breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. 

Right to Compensation

Patients have the right to seek compensation for damages caused by the misdiagnosis, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The amount of compensation will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the extent of harm suffered.

Right to Informed Consent

Patients have the right to be informed about their medical condition accurately and to provide informed consent for any treatments or procedures based on accurate information. A misdiagnosis can violate this right, leading to unnecessary, incorrect, and even harmful treatments.

Right to Medical Records

Patients have the right to access their medical records, including test results, imaging reports, pathology reports, and treatment plans. Obtaining and reviewing these records can help in evaluating the accuracy of the diagnosis and determining if malpractice occurred.

Right to Second Opinion

Patients have the right to seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider if they have concerns about their diagnosis or treatment plan. A second opinion can provide valuable insights and help confirm or refute the initial diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Compensation

The compensation you may be eligible to receive for a breast cancer misdiagnosis depends on various factors, including the following:

  • Severity of harm, 
  • Extent of medical expenses, 
  • Amount of income lost from missed work, 
  • Level of resultant emotional distress,
  • Degree of negligence by healthcare providers, 
  • Laws of the jurisdiction, and 
  • Skill of the attorneys.  

Victims of medical malpractice can receive economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages are direct financial losses like medical bills and lost income.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and less tangible, and punitive damages are meant to punish and discourage bad behavior. Here are some types of compensation that may be available:

While most of these losses are compensable in the majority of cases, punitive damages are rare. Courts award such damages to punish egregious misconduct and gross negligence.

And since no one typically agrees to punish themselves, punitive damages are awarded after a jury trial as opposed to resulting from a negotiated settlement.

Consulting with experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and pursue fair compensation for your losses. 

Take Action Today

If you believe you have been a victim of breast cancer misdiagnosis, don’t wait to seek help. Contact Poulos & Coates, LLP, for compassionate and experienced legal representation.

We understand the challenges you are facing, and we are dedicated to helping you pursue justice and fair compensation. Your journey toward healing and recovery starts with obtaining skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal assistance. So call us today. We are happy to help you move forward.

Author Photo

Greig Coates, M.D., J.D.

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Coates has successfully represented plaintiffs in every conceivable type of medical malpractice lawsuit–from single-physician cases to complex litigation involving over a dozen doctors and several hospitals. Dr. Coates has taken several thousand physician depositions in his career involving every known physician specialty and sub-specialty, and almost as many depositions involving hospital personnel such as nurses, techs, and administrators. He has tried several dozen cases to successful verdicts.

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