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Virginia (VA) Personal Injury Lawyers: Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Jeff Kim's story started in late 2008 when he went to a doctor complaining of mouth pain.  "It was just a chronic pain in the oral cavity under the last molar and it was something that wouldn't go away," said Kim.  The doctor told him he didn't have cancer.  His lawyer said, "Basically, they did some tests, but they did the wrong tests and it's quite clear had they done the right tests, he would have been diagnosed two years earlier."  Jeff was eventually diagnosed with stage 4 adenoid cystic carcinoma and surgery began immediately.  Fried said the doctor testified the tumor was as large as her fist.  Jeff had nine surgeries in one month to try and remove all the cancer and to try and reconstruct his face.

As Virginia medical malpractice attorneys we know that the failure to make a proper diagnose of cancer and or the failure to make a timely diagnosis of cancer are types of medical malpractice that, unfortunately, occurs. When a physician fails to make the diagnosis of cancer, or fails to make the diagnosis in its early stages, it can result in serious injury to the patient, including death.

{Click here to learn about the most common forms of medical malpractice}

There are certain things a doctor should do, such as use a MRI, radiology image tests or a CAT scan and certain clinical and medical information that a doctor should obtain, in order to properly diagnose and care for a patient who presents to a physician with certain abnormal signs and symptoms that are known to be consistent cancer.

The following is a real example of a failure to diagnose medical malpractice case.  A personal injury firm represented a woman with Stage IV (incurable) breast cancer. At trial, the lawyers demonstrated that the treating doctor did not respond appropriately to the patient's complaint of a lump on her breast. The doctor advised that since the patient did not have a family history of breast cancer and was young, that the lump was just a cyst and was nothing to worry about. About ten months later, when the lump grew, the patient went to another doctor who diagnosed breast cancer. The plaintiff's expert in the field of oncology testified during trial that had the cancer been diagnosed ten months earlier, the patient would have been in either Stage I or II and would have had a good chance of survival.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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