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Failure to diagnose, delayed treatment caused cancer death


Oregon residents who develop a cough, headache, runny nose, or just about any other condition may turn to the internet in an attempt to self-diagnose. This rarely works, as the seemingly smallest thing might leave an individual feeling as if he or she is about to die. The only way to truly know one’s medical condition is to go to the doctor. Often, a doctor’s findings put an individual’s mind at ease. However, sometimes the good news is false, and patients do not find out until it is too late.

This happened to one woman who, unfortunately, died from lung cancer after her doctor’s failure to diagnose her condition. After developing a persistent cough, the woman went to her doctor, who performed an X-ray. He examined the X-ray and determined the woman had a respiratory infection. She was given a prescription and sent home.

It was not until more than a year later, after her cough had worsened, that the woman saw another doctor who discovered she had something more than an infection: she had advanced lung cancer. Within seven months the cancer had spread to other organs, causing the woman to die.

During a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the deceased woman’s mother, a jury found the first doctor failed to spot evidence of cancer on the X-ray. As a result, the jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $16.7 million in compensation. Such a recovery may not bring back her mother, but it may help cover medical expenses, lost wages, and ease the daughter’s emotional pain and suffering.

Delayed treatment can cause a worsened medical condition, wreaking havoc on an individual’s well-being. In some cases, the delay may make it too late to remedy the condition. No matter the extent of the situation, filing a malpractice lawsuit can help a victim or his or her family recover incurred damages while punishing those medical professionals who failed to provide the minimum standard of care.

Source: The Boston Globe, “$16.7 million award in cancer lawsuit,” Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 30, 2014