Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits

Lung cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits are filed when a physician uses outdated tools or procedures, does not order screenings, or simply fails to diagnose lung cancer. Patients are then left with few, often costly treatment options. A lung cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit can help offset those costs.

In any given year, more people die from lung cancer than from breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer combined. Unfortunately, a leading problem for lung cancer patients is misdiagnosis, which can delay proper treatment and reduce survival time. With proper attention to the patient’s symptoms, medical records and adherence to established diagnostic processes, many misdiagnosed cases could be prevented.

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Why People Are Filing Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuits

Cancer is hard enough to treat when doctors diagnose it early. However, when a diagnosis is delayed due to a missed screening or a failure on the part of a doctor to recognize symptoms of cancer, the disease may be even harder to treat, since therapy also becomes delayed.

Unfortunately, lung cancer can be easily misdiagnosed as many other conditions, especially if doctors do not follow the appropriate screening and testing procedures. Medical professionals who fail to follow the diagnostic process thoroughly could be considered negligent and become liable as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis

Around 40,000 deaths a year are attributed to cancer misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose. Many of these involve lung cancer. Given the high rates of lung cancer in this country, reducing the rate of misdiagnosis could improve overall life expectancy and survival rate, especially if it means helping patients receive treatment sooner.

Lung cancer patients who are misdiagnosed or their surviving family members may be able to file a misdiagnosis lawsuit depending on their situation. Doctors who fail to diagnose the cancer correctly, or who delay diagnosis, can be considered negligent if they did not order the appropriate tests or procedures to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Common Lung Cancer Misdiagnoses

  • Bronchial pneumonia
  • Encysted lung effusion
  • Lung abscesses
  • Lung nodules
  • Lymphoma
  • Pulmonary fungal infection
  • Thoracic hodgkin disease
  • Tuberculosis

Lung Cancer Screening

Screening for lung cancer is an option for individuals that may be susceptible to developing the disease, including those with an extensive history of heavy smoking, those who currently smoke or have smoked in the past and quit within the past 15 years, and those between the ages of 55 and 80. Others might be eligible if they present relevant risk factors, such as long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.

Screening looks for cancer before symptoms emerge, offering patients a better chance at early detection and cancer treatment. The symptoms of lung cancer can vary based on type (small cell lung cancer vs. non-small cell lung cancer) and their tendency to mimic many other conditions greatly challenges diagnosis and puts a huge emphasis on the importance of proper medical care.

Even with proper screening, test results can often lead to a misdiagnosis if those results are misinterpreted by a lab technician or doctor. Some of the most common errors made with lung cancer test results include:

  • Scanning error: The observer must be experienced in scanning patterns to avoid skipping around and therefore failing to identify a cancerous lesion. This issue composes 30% of errors.
  • Recognition error: Fatigue, bias and lack of vigilance can lead to failure of detection. This issue composes 25% of errors.
  • Decision-making error: The observer may inaccurately interpret an abnormality. This issue composes 45% of errors.

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

Although an accurate diagnosis is always important, it is particularly important for cancer patients, due to the disease’s aggressive nature. Detection in the early stages allows lung cancer patients a greater range of treatment options, including aggressive surgeries and chemotherapy treatments that might not be viable if diagnosed in the later stages.

When a misdiagnosis is the result of negligence or another form of malpractice, diagnosis and treatment can be delayed, placing patients at a later stage by the time their cancer is confirmed. This can greatly impact the chances of long-term survival.

Lung Cancer 5-Year Survival Rate by Stage

Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Stage I 31% 45% – 49%
Stage II 19% 30% – 31%
Stage IIIA 8% 14%
Stage IIIB 8% 5%
Stage IV 2% 1%

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

The large number of misdiagnoses caused by physician error is concerning to patients and their families that are facing lung cancer. Many of these cases can be prevented, saving lives and easing the pain and suffering of those affected.

Physicians who ignore symptoms of lung cancer presented by the patient, or who misread test results that indicate the possibility of cancer, could be held liable for medical malpractice – especially if the cancer is later diagnosed at a late stage. Patients or their loved ones should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer to determine eligibility and legal options.

Notable Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Settlements and Verdicts

There have been thousands of lung cancer lawsuits with varying results. Here are a few notable recent cases that highlight the issues in lung cancer cases.

2018: A woman with early-stage breast cancer presented a mass on her right lung during an X-ray. She was not notified, the lung mass wasn’t addressed, and two years later symptoms led to image testing and a biopsy confirming growth of the lung cancer mass. Though undergoing treatment, her prognosis suggests that she will die from metastatic lung cancer.

2016 ($2.5 million settlement): A 79-year-old woman is delayed an accurate diagnosis for a year and a half. Because of the delay, she was unable to pursue aggressive treatment when she was finally diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, which ultimately led to her death.

2016 ($1.3 million verdict): A 77-year-old man had a chest X-ray done with abnormal results, followed by another without consultation of the first X-ray. Results were read as normal, only to find a year later that he had lung cancer that had spread to the brain, leading to his death a few months later.

For those who have been misdiagnosed, legal help may be an option to regain compensation for pain and suffering.

Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit FAQs

Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about lung cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits.

Am I Eligible to File a Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?

Patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer later than they should have been could be eligible for a lung cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. In the event that the patient passes away after receiving a later lung cancer diagnosis or whose lung cancer is discovered after they died, surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf.

Note that not all delayed or missed diagnoses are necessarily eligible for a lawsuit. Doctors who follow the appropriate screening procedures and who follow-up on symptoms according to generally accepted practice and standards are typically considered not to have been negligent. However, if you believe your doctor or your loved one’s doctor did not follow the proper procedures and guidelines, then you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to see if you have a case.

What Compensation Can a Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Bring My Family?

The types and amounts of compensation a lung cancer patient or their loved ones may receive is different from case to case. A variety of economic and non-economic factors can go into the final calculation, including:

  • The amount of pain and suffering caused by the delayed diagnosis and any unnecessary procedures or prescriptions
  • The costs of treatment for the cancer, especially for additional therapies required due to the misdiagnosis
  • Income lost due to missed work
  • Punitive damages to discourage future negligence on the doctor’s part

During your free consultation, your lawyer will help you understand which damages you can seek as part of your lawsuit. Having documentation of your various expenses – such as hospital bills, prescription receipts, or an explanation of benefits from your insurance provider – will help to calculate the amount you will ask from a jury or what you look to receive as part of a settlement.

How Much Does a Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Cost?

Lung cancer misdiagnosis cases are often accepted by law firms on a contingency basis, meaning that the firm will receive payment only if they help their client get compensation. The payment is often taken as a percentage of the amount won, though the percentage can differ from one law firm to the next.

During your free case review with your lawyer, you should receive an explanation of what the costs will be once you receive compensation.

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