Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer


Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a very fast-growing type of cancer that requires diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 1 in every eight men will develop this disease in their lifetime, and it is more prevalent in those over age 65. Patients achieve the best outcome with aggressive treatment that aims to stop the spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body.

When a doctor does not meet the standard of care set by their peers in the field, and the result is a failure to diagnose prostate cancer, victims suffer a form of medical negligence, for which they can sue. This disease can take a tremendous toll on patients and their families. An attorney who is skilled in litigating these kinds of cases can aid them in recouping compensation for the overwhelming financial burden they can face.

Why is a Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer So Dangerous?

Prostate cancer patients can face long and arduous lives even when the disease is identified and treated early. Overcoming the cancer itself can be difficult, and patients often go on to endure life-long pain and disability. It is highly critical to diagnose and begin fighting the tumors as soon as possible, before they require surgery or spread to other places in the body.

In addition to the difficult path that treatment presents, patients also face the often astronomical costs associated with a cancer regimen. Families without medical insurance are often left destitute yet must still pay for continuing rehabilitation therapy as their loved one recovers. When a physician does not recognize the illness in time, it compounds the suffering for victims and their families.

Failure to diagnose prostate cancer is especially dangerous because it leaves the patient more likely to succumb to the disease. This means a greater chance of significant illness and the very real possibility of death.

Victims’ families often lose their main source of income when the patient is unable to work or dies, and face medical bills plus funeral expenses. Children and spouses lose the companionship of their loved one, and the potential inheritance or lifetime income that could provide a better life.

How Does a Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer Occur?

There are a number of reasons why a prostate cancer diagnosis can be missed. Many patients dislike the screening procedure, which can be considered invasive and uncomfortable, and will avoid getting screened. Doctors may not pursue symptoms thoroughly enough, allowing the cancer to develop and spread when it could have been treatable.

Common indicators that a person could have prostate cancer include:

  • Weak/interrupted flow of urine
  • Blood appearing in urine or semen
  • Frequent need to urinate, especially during the night
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Burning or painful sensation during urination
  • Inability to urinate
  • Pain or stiffness appearing in the hips, upper thighs, back, or pelvis

Doctors can be held liable for a failure to diagnose prostate cancer if they do not take these actions:

  • Offer or recommend regular prostate cancer screenings for those at risk
  • Recommend early prostate cancer screening for those with increased risk
  • Order prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing
  • Follow up appropriately on PSA test results
  • Perform a digital rectal examination (DRE)
  • Investigate suspicious findings
  • Coordinate with the patient’s other medical providers or recommended specialists
Why Do I Need an Attorney for a Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer?

When you or a loved one suffers unnecessary illness or death from a failure to diagnose prostate cancer in a timely manner, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can consult with you and develop a solid plan to seek damages. Patients may choose to pursue a personal injury claim, a medical malpractice or negligence claim, or a wrongful death lawsuit.

A skilled Tulsa attorney will know how to interpret and apply Oklahoma laws to the case, and their legal team will reduce the confusion and stress of going to trial. When a victim tries to understand how to prove liability, how to calculate damages, and how to properly argue a case while also recovering from illness, it can be overwhelming. A skilled lawyer can remove this distress and fight for justice on behalf of those wronged.

An attorney can assist with seeking compensation for both economic and non-economic damages to the patient and their family. Oklahoma Statutes section 23-61.2 does not place an upper limit on the amount of economic damages that can be sought, which includes medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages in Oklahoma are capped at $350,000 no matter how many defendants are involved. Non-economic damages cover items such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of companionship.

Proving Liability When Your Doctor Fails to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

Failure to diagnose prostate cancer falls under the category of medical negligence or medical malpractice. In the state of Oklahoma, these types of lawsuits have a 2-year statute of limitations, meaning a suit must be filed within two years of the failure to diagnose, or two years from when the patient first became aware of the negligence to diagnose properly. When a patient does not file within the 2-year window, they risk losing the ability to recover any compensation at all.

Showing liability in a medical negligence or medical malpractice claim is much more challenging than in other kinds of cases. Medical providers and the hospitals or organizations they work for are extremely averse to admitting guilt when a patient suffers preventable illness or injury. These groups will also likely have significant financial resources they can call on and teams of lawyers to argue against their liability. Medical malpractice cases involve bringing in expert witnesses to testify against the defendants, and many doctors are unwilling to speak against their peers.

To demonstrate liability in a medical negligence claim, the plaintiff and their attorney must prove the following factors are true:

  • That the doctor or provider has an established medical relationship with the victim
  • That the medical practitioner’s action(s) were negligent and failed to meet the standard of care as practiced by others in their field for that condition
  • That the physician’s negligence caused the illness or injury
  • That the illness led to certain quantifiable damages, such as injury or death

It is common for the victim to file a case against a specific doctor or other practitioner, but there may also be cause to pursue the medical organization or hospital where the physician works. An attorney gathering evidence to prove there was a failure to diagnose prostate cancer can request hospital or medical practice records and engage experts to examine them for testimony.

What Damages Can I Seek in a Tulsa Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

When a doctor has failed to diagnose prostate cancer correctly or soon enough, the burden is on the plaintiff and their legal team to convincingly prove how the doctor strayed from the accepted standard of care for the disease. Keeping detailed records that include medical bills, patient records, receipts for any related expenses, and a timeline of treatment (or the lack of it) will strengthen the victim’s argument in court.

Because the medical industry aggressively lobbies state governments to restrict the ability of patients to sue doctors, pursuing a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit is extremely difficult. Many states require the plaintiff to first file a “certificate of merit” laying out the ways that their case is valid and not frivolous. While Oklahoma recently struck down a statute like this, which was one of the most restrictive in the nation, this law could be revived at any time.

Because prostate cancer can grow and spread so easily in the body, early detection of the disease can literally be life-saving. Surgery that spares nerves and sexual function can be done, which preserves a patient’s quality of life. The failure to diagnose prostate cancer quickly enough means a victim will require much more time-consuming and invasive treatment. Radical surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can cause permanent disability and death.

When a physician fails to diagnose prostate cancer in a timely manner, the patient risks suffering conditions such as:

  • Premature death
  • Cancer that advances to an inoperable state
  • Severe physical pain
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Scarring, disfigurement, and loss of other organs
  • Treatment which is more invasive, aggressive, and painful
  • Treatment which is significantly more expensive
  • Increased recovery time
  • Lost wages
  • Long-term or permanent disability

Once a plaintiff and their lawyer are confident that they have the evidence and arguments necessary to seek compensation via the courts, they will compile a list of damages to seek. Damages are intended to reimburse the victim for harm and loss they have experienced from the medical negligence or medical malpractice. Damages can include such items as:

  • Treatment and hospital bills
  • Physical and emotional therapy costs
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of income or earning potential
  • Loss of inheritance potential for the family
  • Partial or full disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Premature death
Hire an Experienced Tulsa Attorney for a Failure to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

When you or a loved one suffers illness, injury, or death from a doctor’s failure to diagnose prostate cancer, rely on the Tulsa medical malpractice attorneys at the law offices of Graves McLain Injury Lawyers. Contact them to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation today online or by phone at 918-359-6600.

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