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The devastating toll of cancer misdiagnosis

| Oct 27, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event that will catch most people off guard. However, when the patient discovers later that the cancer was misdiagnosed or was a delayed diagnosis, the unnecessary suffering is devastating.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, diagnostic mistakes are the most common and serious form of medical error, causing anywhere from 40,000-80,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals each year.

The “big three”

There are three conditions that are related to 75% of serious harm from misdiagnosis: infections, vascular events and cancers. Of these, called the “big three” conditions, more than one third of the errors that lead to death or permanent disability were linked to cancers.

Of the types of cancer where misdiagnosis led to serious harm, lung cancer, notoriously difficult to diagnosis, came out on top. Other frequently misdiagnosed cancers were skin, prostate, and breast cancers.

Most of the diagnosis errors occurred either in an outpatient setting, where most cancer-related issues occurred, or in an emergency situation. The cause was mostly due to clinical judgement failure.

Medical malpractice claims in Oregon

Oregon state law defines medical malpractice as a medical professional acting in such a way as to cause injury or death to the patient. The injured patient must establish:

  • The relationship of care by the medical professional for the patient and between the patient and the medical professional
  • Whether the care the patient received was a reasonable standard of care at the time the injury happened
  • How the medical professional did not meet that expected standard of care
  • How the patient’s injury was due to the actions of the medical professional

Much of the work to prove allegations of malpractice comes from expert witnesses. If the case has merit, the Oregon Medical Board will start an in-depth investigation which can be used in court.

Malpractice damages in Oregon can be for lost wages, medical bills, medical equipment or procedures, or for non-monetary damages that are capped at $500,000 for pain and suffering of the injured patient or distress to the loved ones surviving the loss of the injured patient.

Having an experienced attorney who knows the experts in the field in order to start an investigation, can work with insurance companies and who knows the laws in Oregon, is essential when deciding to file a malpractice suit.

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