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How common is Massachusetts misdiagnosed cancer and why?


People in Boston who are having symptoms or just go to their doctor for a checkup are relieved when they are told it is nothing or at least nothing serious. The worst possible diagnosis is to be told one has a terminal or potentially fatal illness like cancer. However, when a person is told that they have nothing to worry about there are times when they do have something to worry about and they've been subjected to a failure to diagnose cancer or misdiagnosed cancer. The number of times this occurs is much more common than is believed.

Over 60 percent of doctors who were spoken to in a study regarding how often they believed that there was an incident of misdiagnosed cancer thought that the numbers were between zero and 10 percent. The BMJ Quality and Safety Journal put the numbers at 28 percent. Doctors have reasons they believe that there is a common incidence of misdiagnosis. Many, over 38 percent, think that an absence of comprehensive medical information regarding the patients is to blame. Twenty two percent blame inadequate resources for pathology. Slightly over 20 percent believe the absence of genetic information is to blame. While it may be small consolation to those who were victimized by a failure to diagnose cancer, it is not believed that apathy is a frequent cause of the mistakes.

Thirty six percent of doctors believe that improvements in diagnostic technology will alleviate the number of people who are misdiagnosed. Nearly 18 percent would like to see better genetic information and testing. Almost one-third of doctors think that an incentive program from lawmakers for improved research would be a great help. With the number of people who have faced a misdiagnosed cancer, the research is of little consolation.

Since cancer can spread quickly and become more difficult to treat, delayed treatment can cost a patient his or her life. The spread of disease is the bane for many patients and with a failure to diagnose cancer; this can become a fatal problem. Those who have been subjected to this type of mistake and suffered consequences because of it should know how to move forward with litigation due to the error and possible long-term damage.

Source: Boston Magazine, "Misdiagnosing Cancer is More Common Than We Think," Jamie Ducharme, Sept. 16, 2014

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