At Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C., our Philadelphia cancer misdiagnosis lawyers are committed to providing affordable, compassionate representation to patients who have been harmed by medical malpractice. But we also encourage our clients to educate themselves on their legal situation.
We’ve designed this frequently asked questions section to answer some of the basic concerns we often hear from people considering legal action.
To schedule your free case evaluation, call (215) 608-2183 or contact us online. We are available 24/7 to take your call, and we serve all of Pennsylvania with integrity, professionalism, and passion.
Q: What is misdiagnosis?A:
Simply put, “misdiagnosis” is a failure or delay in properly diagnosing a condition. A misdiagnosis can mistake one condition for another, or dismiss actual symptoms as “nothing to worry about.”
In any event, misdiagnoses frequently result in injury, trauma, and anguish for patients and their families. In tragic cases, a cancer misdiagnosis can directly contribute to a person’s death.
Medical malpractice lawsuits allow the victims of misdiagnosis, along with their loved ones, to pursue fair and adequate compensation for the damage caused by a physician’s negligence.
Q: Was I misdiagnosed?A:
Without a thorough investigation, we can’t answer that question, but here are a few things to think about:
- Are you receiving treatments that don’t seem effective?
- Did you receive a diagnosis after only one screening test?
- Did your doctor disregard any of your symptoms or complaints?
Answering “yes” to one or more of those questions may indicate that your doctor failed to take a comprehensive approach to your diagnosis. Making a diagnosis based on incomplete evidence is a leading contributor to inaccurate cancer detection.
Q: Can You Sue For Misdiagnosis of Cancer?A:
Yes. Medical misdiagnosis is frighteningly common, and often, a clear example of professional negligence. Many patients are told they have cancer when they don’t, while others are incorrectly diagnosed with a benign condition.
Some of these patients go on to file cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits. In fact, around one-third of all medical negligence claims involve some form of misdiagnosis. But recent statistics suggest that for every patient who actually files a lawsuit, many more are injured by a doctor’s negligence.
Q: What is a malpractice lawsuit?A:
Not every misdiagnosis is an instance of medical malpractice. Cancer is difficult to diagnose, and presents a challenge even for the best physicians. The key question in a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit will be whether or not your doctor violated their “standard of care.” Since cancer is literally a matter of life and death, a rigorous code of conduct guides the detection process.
Every medical malpractice claim begins by defining this standard of care; we rely on the opinions of impartial medical experts to do this. Then the actions or inactions of a patient’s doctor will be scrutinized, to see if they deviated from the standard.
The second question is whether or not you suffered some actual harm that was caused by your doctor’s deviation from their standard of care.
Q: Who can I sue for misdiagnosing me?A:
In most cases, patients file medical malpractice lawsuits against general practitioners, their primary care physicians. Less common, but often justified, is suing an oncologist, pathologist, or diagnostic technician who improperly conducted screenings or failed to communicate relevant test results with other members of your healthcare team.
Q: How do I report medical malpractice?A:
Reporting a possible instance of medical malpractice is fairly simple, but it’s advisable to speak with an experienced Philadelphia cancer misdiagnosis lawyer first.
In Pennsylvania, patients can submit a formal complaint with the state’s medical licensing board. All you have to do is provide some basic information about yourself, your doctor, or the medical facility involved, then describe the incident and any harm that was caused.
However, filing a complaint isn’t the same as beginning a lawsuit. It doesn’t necessarily go toward proving any of the allegations you would make in a lawsuit, either, even if Pennsylvania’s licensing board investigates the incident and agrees with you. Reporting medical malpractice could also have some unexpected legal consequences. For one, the state’s licensing authority will contact your doctor and inform them that a complaint has been filed. Likewise, your doctor’s insurance company will hear about the complaint and may contact you with a settlement offer.
You should be very wary of accepting any settlement offer right off the bat. It’s likely to be far less than you could win in a successful lawsuit, and signing a settlement agreement will almost always revoke your right to file suit. It’s better policy to tell the insurer that you’ll take their offer into consideration with the guidance of your attorney.
Q: How long do you have to sue for medical malpractice?A:
In Pennsylvania, patients have two years to file a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. That’s usually taken to mean that you have two years since the date on which the alleged malpractice took place.
But the statute of limitations is frequently “tolled,” or suspended, since many patients only learn of a misdiagnosis long after the fact. In that case, you would have two years after the date on which you learned, or should have learned, that malpractice may have taken place. The limit to this kind of extension, according to Pennsylvania law, is seven years after the actual date of malpractice.
Once you’ve filed an initial complaint with the help of your lawyer, you then have 60 days to file an “affidavit of merit.” This official document states that your attorney has consulted with an appropriate medical expert who believes malpractice occurred.
Q: Do I need a lawyer to file a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit?A:
While some areas of personal injury law can be navigated by victims on their own, medical malpractice isn’t usually one of them.
Pressure from the insurance industry has made malpractice one of the most complicated legal domains in America, and the obvious complexities of the medical field only add to the confusion that many patients feel in tackling this issue by themselves. The laws governing medical malpractice claims also vary widely from state to state, so contacting a local attorney to assist you is advised.
Q: How should I choose a medical malpractice attorney?A:
Experience is crucial. Every lawyer you consider should have a proven track record of success in the kind of case you’re considering.
For Pennsylvania cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits, many patients choose the attorneys at Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Past victories can be an excellent guide in selecting your lawyer, but note that prior results in no way guarantee the outcome of your own claim.
The following are two examples of cancer malpractice cases successfully handled by our attorneys:
- After experienced pain and discovering a lump in her groin, a 59-year-old school teacher was referred to an imaging facility for further investigation. The radiologist failed to find any evidence of a malignancy. More than one year later, she was referred to an oncologist and soon diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. The critical delay in diagnosis had allowed her cancer to spread, and she required intensive chemotherapy. Tragically, she was forced to retire early. Our attorneys were successful in securing a favorable award against the radiologist.
- Our client, a 48-year-old man, was wrongfully imprisoned in Philadelphia. During his incarceration, he complained of telling sinus symptoms, but was left without adequate treatment. After release, he sought treatment at a cancer center in the Philadelphia area, where he was informed that the prison’s doctors had failed to diagnose his sinus cancer. The delay had allowed his cancer to reach an advanced stage, and he required multiple surgeries. Our attorneys recovered significant compensation for him in an undisclosed settlement agreement.
Q: Aren’t lawyers expensive?A:
Legal counsel can be very costly, and this deters many injured patients from seeking the fair compensation they need.
At Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C., we believe no one should be prevented from pursuing justice just because of their financial situation. That’s why our medical malpractice attorneys only work on a contingency-fee basis; you never pay a cent until we win a settlement or court award in your favor.
We don’t think exploring your legal options should cost you anything, either. Our lawyers provide free consultations, so you can find out more about your situation, without worrying about the expense.
Q: How is Cancer Diagnosed?A:
Nearly all diseases are progressive, worsening over time, but no condition intensifies as aggressively as cancer. Detecting cancer early is essential for ensuring that patients receive effective treatment. Unfortunately, it’s also notoriously difficult.
For most patients, the difference between an early diagnosis and one that is delayed has devastating consequences. Even under the best circumstances, the likelihood of surviving an advanced cancer is low. Beyond troubling survival rates, late-stage malignancies require treatments so debilitating that many people wonder if therapy is even worth it.
It’s clear that receiving an accurate diagnosis is critical. But how to catch malignant tumors before they spread has troubled physicians for centuries, and it can still be a difficult task. With our experience in handling malpractice lawsuits related to cancer, our Philadelphia cancer misdiagnosis attorneys know what to look for and involve experts to help us determine and prove whether a delayed or misdiagnosis occurred.
In order to deal with the inherent complications of detecting cancer, medical professionals have developed a “standard of care” over the years. While this standard changes from doctor to doctor, and patient to patient, every proper diagnosis is based on a process known as “differential diagnosis.”
In theory, differential diagnosis is a simple technique:
- Create a complete list of a patient’s symptoms and any lab test results available
- Create a second list of all the conditions that could possibly cause those symptoms
- Rank the list of conditions logically, either in terms of probability or severity
- Go through the list, performing new tests to rule out conditions the patient doesn’t actually have
- Once every other condition is eliminated, the one that remains is the correct diagnosis
But in practice, diagnosis is a little messier.