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Missed diagnosis a frequent cause of medical malpractice claims

For many Montana residents, receiving a diagnosis of cancer from a doctor can be an earth-shattering moment. Even though some kinds of cancer have become more treatable in recent years thanks to medical research and innovation, for many people, the word "cancer" can amount to a virtual death sentence.

While many Montanans shudder to think that they could be diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, it is likely that most of us would want to know that we were sick if indeed we did have cancer. Unfortunately, a recent study shows that missed cancer diagnoses are some of the most common medical errors leading to medical malpractice claims.

It is only natural that something like a missed diagnosis of cancer could lead to a lawsuit. While many kinds of cancer do have improved survival rates, this is contingent on actually treating the disease. If someone gets a clean bill of health and goes for an extended period of time without cancer treatment, even a relatively less serious illness can turn into a deadly one if it is neglected.

What can patients do to avoid being misdiagnosed? A tactic suggested by some experts is to be persistent with questions. For example, a woman who is concerned by a lump found in her breast and is told by her doctor to keep an eye on it might be inclined to ignore the issue for a couple years; if the ultimate verdict is cancer, then two years of potential treatment might have gone by without anything being done.

People in Montana who have gotten sick because of a missed diagnosis might wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney, who can apprise them of their rights.

Source: CBS News, "Most common medical malpractice claims for missed cancer, heart attacks," Ryan Jaslow, July 19, 2013

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