- It is estimated that in 2015, 15,600 women and 145 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Approximately 42 women will be diagnosed each day in 2015 with breast cancer.
- One in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they turn 85.
- It is estimated that in 2020, 17,210 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women.
- It is estimated that 3,040 women and 25 men will lose their lives to breast cancer in 2015
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2014, when I began, on what felt like to me, a “ride” on the medical “merry-go-round” consulting with a variety of doctors, having multiple tests and then multiple surgeries after which I survived (yes, thats the correct word) chemo and finally radiation.
I thought I had a good knowledge of medicine prior, but this experience, increased my medical knowledge of oncological care and treatment, exponentially. Prior to law, I had been employed in medicine for 15 years, and during that time I had worked with many surgeons in a wide variety of specialities. Some were fantastic surgeons and others mediocre, ….. I didn’t work long for the mediocre! I did work with a very talented plastic reconstructive surgeon, and we had remained friends for 15 years after my employment had ceased with her. When I was diagnosed I called her and she immediatley organised all of my appointments to see the “people she would recommend” for necessary staging, surgery and treatment. After all of my treatment ceased, she performed reconstructive and revision surgeries! I was exceptionally well cared for!
What about other women (and men) who don’t have the luxury of having a very competent plastic reconstructive surgeon organise all their appointments to see doctors for proper diagnosis, staging, treatment and surgeries, when diagnosed with breast cancer? What may result are negligence issues in relation to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment…..what are those issues and how are they demonstrated by medicos?
Misdiagnosis and Mistreatment
Misdiagnosis and mistreatment are the most common bases for a negligence claim involving breast cancer. One of the problems is when young women present, they are not considered in the typical range for breast cancer and may not be diagnosed for months or longer, due to a doctor not taking their complaints seriously or possibly discounting the diagnosis of breast cancer due to their young age.
Errors Occur When……..:
For women, or men, of any age, when a doctor or health care provider (Breast Screen etc) does not:
- Identify an obvious lump during a breast examination (palpation)
- Organise a mammogram/ultrasound/CT scan/MRI scan (no Medicare funding for MRI)
- Organise a fine needle aspiration (Dr inserts fine needle into lump and removes cells/fluids )
- Organise a core biopsy (Dr inserts needle into breast lump to remove tissue)
- Follow up test results/ or follow up appointment with patient (patient slips through cracks or misdiagnosed and not followed up)
- Diagnose a malignant tumour (by not organising further diagnostic testing)
- Determine the cause of nipple changes/discharge/pain (by not organising further diagnostic testing)
- Recognise common breast cancer symptoms
- Recognise a history of sharp breast pain (can be a symptom of breast cancer)
A negligent doctor may fail to run appropriate tests, misdiagnose, or fail to diagnose, fail to provide proper treatment or refer to appropriate treating professional for second opinion or treatment or even delay treatment due to misdiagnosis, which can impact on a persons “early diagnosis” and improve their chances of long term survival.
- ADH: atypical ductal hyperplasia
- AH: atypical hyperplasia
- ALH: atypical lobular hyperplasia
- DCIS: ductal carcinoma in situ
- ER: oestrogen receptor (can be +/-)
- FNA: fine needle aspiration
- H&E: haematoxylin and eosin
- PPV: positive predictive value
- PR: progesterone receptor (can be +/-)
- QA: quality assurance
- Core Bx: Core Biopsy
- FN/FP: false negative/false positive
- TN/TP: true negative/true positive
These negligence issues will occur in respect to GP’s as well as medical specialists (radiographers, organisations who screen for breast cancer and certain medical specialties).
What is the legal position, where a person, has been misdiagnosed, treatment delayed and the initial breast cancer metastasised to the brain, lungs, bones or liver? The issue arises – where the doctor failed to diagnose, for example, breast cancer, and this resulted in an increase in the chance of metastasis, the patient’s initial cancer metastasises and the issue of causation is in “front & centre” of the claim, whats the answer legally?
I invite you to subscribe to my blog at http://www.sydneybarrister.net.au where this issue of causation will be discussed at a later time, as well as other diverse legal topics canvassed. I don’t want you to miss a topic!
If you have suggestions on what you would like to see discussed please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your suggestions would be welcomed!