An early cancer diagnosis is considered by oncologists, hospital error lawyers, and cancer survivors alike to be an essential first step to recovery. Consider the following excerpt from Cancer Research UK’s website: “Cancer that’s diagnosed at an early stage, before it’s had the chance to get too big or spread is more likely to be treated successfully. If the cancer has spread, treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving are much lower.”

Ninety per cent of bowel cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer patients will survive for more than five years if diagnosed at the earliest stages of the disease. Seventy per cent of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if diagnosed early, compared to just 14 per cent diagnosed at a later stage.

In short, an early cancer diagnosis followed by prompt and effective treatment is likely to extend patients’ lives. An improper diagnosis or delayed treatment, on the other hand, increases a patient’s chances of succumbing to the disease. Hospital error lawyers can provide important advice if you or someone you love has experienced a delayed diagnosis.

This March, CBC News British Columbia published an article illustrating the dangers of delayed diagnosis. Shannon Nolting is suing ‘several doctors, a clinic and a hospital in the Okanagan area, claiming health professionals failed to notify her husband, Eric, that he’d tested positive for melanoma five years before his death in 2012.’

Eric had a mole removed at a walk-in clinic in Vernon, BC, in October 2007. The mole was biopsied at a local hospital, and showed signs of malignant melanoma. Eric, who was told by the clinic that he’d receive a follow-up call if anything was found, was never informed of his diagnosis and did not receive treatment.

In May 2012 he was diagnosed Stage 4 melanoma after visiting a doctor regarding his weight loss. In September 2012 he filed a negligence suit against the Vernon walk-in clinic, its doctors and the hospital that performed the biopsy; in December of that year he passed away at the age of 38.

The clinic, doctors, and hospital named in Eric’s negligence suit have all denied the allegations against them: statements of defence for both the clinic and its doctors claim that the hospital was responsible for delivering a hard copy of the pathology report; the hospital stated that the report would have been sent by courier or fax under normal protocol, and that Eric “unreasonably failed” to follow up on the test.

Hospital error lawyers understand that doctors have an obligation to keep their patients apprised of important information regarding their health. When something as serious as a cancer diagnosis is not communicated, the medical implications can be extremely grave. Cancer patients require fast, effective treatment to improve their chance of surviving – when a diagnosis is not communicated, treatment is not sought and that patient’s life is put at risk.

If you or a member of your family has been harmed by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, contact the hospital error lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team understands the dire medical and emotional impact that such an error can have on individuals and their loved ones, and can guide you on your next steps towards recovery.

Greg Neinstein