Late or Delayed Cancer Diagnosis in Maryland
Most Maryland residents' lives have been touched by cancer, in one way or another. If you haven't had some form of cancer yourself, you probably know someone who has. It may be a parent, sibling, child, spouse, or other relative; a friend or neighbor; or an acquaintance or co-worker. Cancer affects young and old, rich and poor, celebrities and regular people alike. Cancer doesn't discriminate.
Here in the Baltimore, Maryland area, we have some of the finest hospitals and doctors around. Patients survive and beat many forms of cancer. The key -- medical researchers and practitioners would agree -- is a combination of screening, early detection, correct diagnosis, and effective treatment.
Sadly, not all cancer patients get the same standard of care that doctors in the state of Maryland are required by law to provide. The results can be devastating -- and deadly.
Failure to Diagnose and Treat Cancer in a Timely Manner
The standard of care is, in legal terms, the level at which the average, prudent provider in a given community would practice. In other words, it is how similarly qualified practitioners would have managed the patient's care under the same or similar circumstances.
The medical malpractice plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit via their attorney) must establish the appropriate standard of care and demonstrate that it has been breached. This "standard of care" applies to general practice or primary care physicians (whom we used to call "family doctors"), as well as specialists such as oncologists and surgeons.
A standard of good medical care in regards to diagnosing and treating cancer can mean...
- Ordering diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT and PET scans, blood work, and biopsies if cancer is suspected in a patient.
- Acting without delay to diagnose, treat, and screen for cancers, including referring patients to oncology specialists.
- Informing cancer patients of their options for treatment.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, many of the cancer medical malpractice cases we see occur due to delayed, late, or failed cancer diagnosis.
For example: A patient goes to his or her doctor and presents a set of suspicious symptoms that any reasonable doctor providing that "standard of good medical care" would investigate. This doctor, however, has a waiting room full of people and fails to thoroughly investigate the cause of those symptoms. The doctor tells the patient not to worry and sends the patient home. A year later, the symptoms have worsened and the patient presents with late-stage cancer, which now cannot be cured. That could be a medical malpractice case in Maryland. (Please see our general Medical Malpractice webpage for an overview of medical malpractice and negligence lawsuits in Maryland.)
Unfortunately, the scenario above is all too real for clients we've known who had cancers that could have been successfully treated had they been diagnosed in the early stages. Breast cancer and colon cancers are two forms of the disease that when caught early, have high survival rates. But if symptoms are ignored and these diseases metastasize to other organs -- they can be fatal.
The Law Offices of Butschky & Butschky, LLC works within a network of compassionate, experienced medical malpractice lawyers serving the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County, Cecil County, and the rest of Maryland, as well as the Mid-Atlantic states. Please contact us if you would like to discuss late cancer diagnosis or any other medical malpractice issue.
For a free consultation on whether you may have a medical malpractice or cancer misdiagnosis case, call our Sparks office in Baltimore County, Maryland at (410) 472-3651; our Baltimore City office at (410) 625-1110; or toll-free at (800) 722-6616.
U.S. and Maryland Cancer Statistics -- New Cases and Deaths*
The American Cancer Society reports that in 2009, more than 1.4 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed and over half a million people died from cancer in the United States. Lung cancer and other cancers of the respiratory system claimed more than 163,000 lives, followed by cancers of the digestive system (includes colon, rectal, and anal cancers, as well as pancreatic cancer), which killed more than 135,000 people.
Maryland had 26,650 new cases of cancer and 10,320 people died of cancer in 2009. Lung cancer was the biggest killer (2,880 deaths) followed by colon & rectum cancer (940 deaths), female breast cancer (810 deaths), pancreatic cancer (690 deaths) and prostate cancer (550 deaths).
Filing a Late Cancer Diagnosis Lawsuit in Maryland
Filing a cancer misdiagnosis or late diagnosis lawsuit in Maryland is not a simple thing.
- Firstly, the state of Maryland places responsibility on the patient to act reasonably in seeking out their own medical care. If you ignore symptoms, fail to seek medical care, or do not follow a doctor's recommendations -- the finger of responsibility could be pointed at you, and not the doctor.
- Secondly, a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland requires expert testimony to prove the health care provider's actions or inactions directly caused harm to the patient and/or did not meet the standard of care.
This is why it is so important to contact an experienced Maryland injury lawyer right away, if you think you might have a cancer misdiagnosis or other medical malpractice or negligence case. Call us at (410) 472-3651 or Toll Free: (800) 722-6616. Or click here to contact us online. We will be happy to get back to you promptly.
*Sources: American Cancer Society, Inc., Surveillance and Health Policy Research reports: Estimated New Cancer Cases and Deaths by Sex, US, 2009; Estimated New Cancer Cases for Selected Cancer Sites by State, US, 2009; and Estimated Cancer Deaths for Selected Cancer Sites by State, US, 2009.