Missed diagnoses and delayed diagnoses are among the most common causes of medical malpractice lawsuits in Canada. Physicians owe patients a duty of care; part of that duty is to provide a prompt and accurate diagnosis whenever possible. Failing to do so can result in long-term health issues and serious injuries.

Missed diagnoses are particularly dangerous to cancer patients. An early cancer diagnosis can drastically improve the patient’s chances of survival and may help them avoid invasive treatments. When a delayed cancer diagnosis results in damages, a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help the patient or the patient’s family access compensation.

Last month, CBC News reported that a woman in Campbellton, New Brunswick, had launched a medical malpractice claim alleging that four doctors – a surgeon and three diagnostic radiologists – were negligent in failing to deliver an accurate cancer diagnosis between 2013 and 2015. All four worked at the Campbellton Regional Hospital at that time.

According to her claim, the plaintiff first visited the hospital for a right breast ultrasound in 2013. A mass was found, but it was believed to be benign. The radiologist recommended a four-month follow-up and a fine needle biopsy.

In February 2014, the plaintiff saw a surgeon at the hospital and noted that her right nipple had been slightly inverted for 2-3 months. The surgeon conducted an exam and decided a biopsy was unnecessary. A follow-up ultrasound was booked.

That ultrasound was conducted in May 2014. The results showed the mass had grown slightly; a follow-up was recommended in two months.

In October 2014, another ultrasound showed no change in size to the mass. The doctor recommended another follow-up in six months and noted that the ultrasound did not explain the nipple retraction.

The next ultrasound, in May 2015, revealed a small cyst but little change in the existing mass.

However, in September 2015, a plastic surgeon inspected the plaintiff’s inverted nipple and recommended a mammogram. The mammogram, conducted in November, revealed a 2.6 cm lesion that appeared to be malignant. A biopsy conducted that month confirmed invasive cancer and in December the plaintiff underwent a radical mastectomy of the right breast.

The plaintiff and her medical malpractice lawyer allege the original surgeon at Campbellton Regional Hospital failed to heed warning signs and was negligent in not recommending a fine needle biopsy. The claim further alleges that the radiologists interpreted the ultrasound results in a “hurried, rushed manner” and failed to inspect the plaintiff’s whole right breast, the CBC reports. As a result, the plaintiff had no choice but to undergo a traumatic surgery that might have been avoided with an earlier diagnosis.

The allegations laid out in the plaintiff’s claim have not been proven, but it is clear that she suffered a life-changing injury. If you or a member of your family have been affected by a delayed diagnosis, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our team will assess the viability of you claim and provide guidance and advice as you navigate the road to recovery.

Greg Neinstein