Imagine being told by an oncologist that you have terminal Stage IV breast cancer, meaning that your cancer is advanced (has spread) and you are likely to die from the cancer. Imagine further that your oncologist misread a medical test that showed you did not have cancer and that the chemotherapy and other painful cancer treatments you received after the cancer misdiagnosis were completely unnecessary. For a 54-year-old Texas woman who had seven months of chemotherapy and was placed on anxiety medications to help her cope with the stress and anxiety of the diagnosis and her impending death, her cancer misdiagnosis was a living nightmare.
The woman’s ordeal began in 2009 when she had surgery to remove a benign tumor from her left breast. An oncologist misread the woman’s PET scan one month later, determining that the mother of four had enlarged lymph nodes and diagnosing the woman with advanced breast cancer. The cancer diagnosis and her dire prognosis led to the woman giving away her personal belongings and arranging for her own hospice care at home. She faced her approaching death by creating a bucket list of things she wanted to do before she died.
The painful cancer treatment that she endured and the emotional toll that the cancer diagnosis and treatment caused her led to the woman being hospitalized in 2011 for treatment of her anxiety. Following hospital protocol for cancer patients, the physicians at the hospital conducted scans that led to one of her physicians suspecting that the cancer diagnosis was wrong. Subsequently, the woman was seen at the world-renowned cancer center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, where further evaluation determined not only that she did not then have cancer, but that she had not had cancer since 2009.
At first, the woman felt relief when she was told that she did not have cancer but then she realized how much she and her family had suffered as a result of being told she had terminal cancer when in fact she was cancer-free. The woman filed a Texas medical malpractice lawsuit against the oncologist for the unnecessary cancer treatment and the emotional injuries she sustained as a result of the oncologist’s negligence. Earlier this month, a Texas medical malpractice jury awarded the woman $367,500 in damages against the oncologist’s estate (the oncologist died in March 2013).
The $367,500 jury verdict will be reduced due to Texas’ cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases in the amount of $250,000.
While many cancer misdiagnosis claims involve the failure of medical providers to timely diagnosis and/or properly treat patients’ cancer, other cancer misdiagnosis claims occur when patients are told they have cancer when they do not have cancer or they are misdiagnosed as to the type or severity of their cancer. In both types of cancer misdiagnosis claims, the victims’ physical and emotional injuries and damages are usually serious and substantial.
If you or a loved one were the victim of cancer misdiagnosis in Texas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a Texas medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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