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Does a Physical Check-up Guarantee a Diagnosis?

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If recent studies are correct, you may be putting entirely too much faith in that annual physical examination with your primary care physician or healthcare specialist. Even if you faithfully show up each calendar year to have a doctor listen to your heart, poke at your abdomen, check your reflexes, look at your throat, and test your blood, it does not guarantee a diagnosis.

It's an unfortunate fact that, even when the tests to detect dangerous and deadly diseases are available, they aren't always effective, and this is often due to provider error. This is particularly the case when it comes to breast cancer screening. Millions of women each year dutifully have breast examinations and undergo mammograms, which either fail to detect abnormalities or lead to unnecessary treatment.

Breast Cancer Statistics

Breastcancer.org reports that roughly 12.8% of all U.S. women are likely to acquire invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. In 2018 alone, there will be more than 288,000 invasive breast cancer cases in the U.S. and over 40,000 women will lose their lives to the disease. About 85% of breast cancers show up in women who have no known family history of the disease, which makes early diagnosis and testing of the entire population even more essential.

When You Should Be Tested for Breast Cancer

The recommended age to begin testing for breast cancer varies depending on the source. The American Cancer Society recommends that a person begin annual testing as early as age 40. However, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that yearly testing begin at age 50 and then only twice a year after the age of 74. Unfortunately, a study released in the British Medical Journal reveals that mammograms may not reduce breast cancer mortality and could lead to treatment that is unnecessary.

When There are Diagnostic Errors with Mammography

As a woman, your health can face irreparable harm when a medical provider fails to correctly read a mammography film. A February 2013 issue of Radiology concluded that diagnostic errors were the most common cause of radiology malpractice lawsuits, and the most frequently overlooked diagnosis was breast cancer. In fact, Cancer.gov reports that a radiologist could miss as much as 20% of cancers due to factors that include being overburdened, inexperienced, and incompetent.

When a patient receives a clean bill of health at an annual exam, even with a mammogram test, they may be more apt to ignore other subtle warnings signals of a problem. A proper diagnosis by a physician or radiologist could uncover the need for further testing or life-saving treatment.

Is Failure to Diagnose Considered Malpractice?

When a medical provider fails to diagnose a serious condition, you may have a valid medical malpractice case. Some of the common mistakes that are made with breast cancer patients include the complete failure to diagnosis, a delay in diagnosis, and misdiagnosis.

To have a valid medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove several things. Among them are:

  • The medical provider owed you a legal duty of care, meaning there was an established relationship;
  • The medical provider breached their duty of care by making a mistake;
  • You suffered from some type of injury or harm from a medical condition; and,
  • The provider's mistake was the cause of your harm or made it worse.

If you are unsure about having a valid case, speak with an experienced Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer about your options.

When Over-Diagnosis is a Problem

Some medical providers are also guilty of over-diagnosing serious medical conditions, which can lead to unnecessary medical treatment. Some tumors may be benign or so slow-growing that they will never be a health danger. A rush to major surgery may line the pockets of medical providers, but it also leads to unnecessary pain, suffering, and expense on the part of the patient and their loved ones.

Speak with a Qualified Kentucky Medical Malpractice Attorney

When you have been harmed by a trusted medical provider, you have the right to make a claim for damages. In a Kentucky medical malpractice case, you are not only asking that the provider pay you full and fair compensation, but your case should also hold those responsible for your pain accountable for these wrongs so that others don't have to suffer similarly in the future.

At The Slechter Law Firm, we stand up for the rights of people just like you. Contact our Louisville office today at (502) 384-7400 or online to schedule your free consultation to discuss your options.

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