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Cancer Misdiagnosis Higher Than Thought

The “C” word sends chills down everyone’s spine. Although treatments have improved life expectancy, the treatments themselves have major medical consequences and medical bills remain the most common reason for filing for personal bankruptcy. A recent survey of doctors found that they believed that misdiagnosis of cancer was between zero and ten percent. They were wrong.

According to the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal, an estimated 28 percent of cancers are misdiagnosed, with lymphoma being the most misdiagnosed cancer of all. Breast, sarcomas, melanomas and cancer of an unknown site followed lymphoma on this infamous list.

The cause of misdiagnosis is not that a physician is uncaring or even unskilled. Doctors are increasingly time-strapped, seeing too many patients and often plagued by ineffective paperwork systems. Yet patients still need to be protected. The top reasons for blowing a cancer diagnosis are:

  • “Fragmented or missing information across medical information systems” (38.5 percent)
  • “Inadequate pathology diagnostic resources” (22 percent)
  • “Inadequate genetic/genomic information available at the time of diagnosis” (20.3 percent)

Most doctors agree that they need new and improved pathology tools and resources, more readily available tumor genetic testing and improved radiology tools. Almost thirty percent of doctors believe that lawmakers should offer incentives to hospitals that are gathering data on misdiagnosis.

Estimates place the cost of misdiagnosis at $700 billion annually in the United States. The suffering resulting from misdiagnosis is horrendous, with patients losing their jobs, families, homes and even their lives. If you or a loved one suspects that there has been a misdiagnosis, contact experienced attorneys who understand the complexities of medical malpractice and who can protect your rights and recovery.