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Articles Posted in Cancer Misdiagnosis

When people are diagnosed with cancer, they rely on hospitals and oncologists to provide appropriate care and treatment. If an oncologist advises a person that the person’s cancer is in remission, the person will generally take this to mean that they no longer have cancer. Recently, a New York appellate court addressed the issue of whether a hospital can be held liable for advising a patient that he is cancer free following treatment for prostate cancer, when the patient is suffering from colon cancer that has not yet been diagnosed. If you suffered harm due to an oncologist’s failure to appropriately diagnose or treat your cancer, you should speak with a knowledgeable Rochester oncology malpractice attorney regarding your injuries and your potential claims.

Factual Background

Allegedly, in October 2004, the plaintiff’s decedent was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the first defendant hospital. An MRI and bone scan showed that the cancer was not metastatic. He sought a second opinion, and ultimately began treating with the defendant oncologist at the second defendant hospital. In July 2005, the defendant oncologist advised the plaintiff’s decedent that he was biochemically and clinically free of any evidence of the disease. In November 2005, however, the plaintiff’s decedent visited his urologist with complaints of rectal bleeding. He tested positive for blood in his stool and was referred to a gastroenterologist. The plaintiff’s decedent was ultimately diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. He underwent treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, but lost his battle with cancer in June 2007.

It is reported that before his death, the plaintiff’s decedent filed an oncology malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospitals and defendant oncologist, which was converted to a wrongful death case following the plaintiff’s decedent’s death. The defendant hospitals filed motions for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the claims against them. The court granted the motions, and the plaintiff appealed.

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If you suffered preventable harm due to a late prostrate cancer diagnosis or because of a delayed prostrate cancer diagnosis, you need to call a knowledge Rochester medical malpractice lawyer who can help you determine whether malpractice occurred. We have held countless negligent doctors and hospitals accountable for medical malpractice when these parties have failed to screen and treat patients for cancer properly.

Prostrate Cancer

Prostrate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate – a small gland surrounding the neck of the bladder in men that makes the seminal fluid that transports the sperm. After skin cancer, prostrate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. It affects nearly 200,000 men every year across the country. For this reason, all men should be offered prostrate cancer screening by their primary care physicians and/or urologists starting at the age of 50. In cases where a patient is at an increased risk for prostrate cancer, either because of a family history of the disease or their ethnic background, prostrate screening should begin even earlier.

Unfortunately, cervical cancer is a common diagnosis among women. A doctor’s failure to diagnose or their misdiagnosis of cervical cancer can have catastrophic health effects for a patient. If this has happened to you or your loved one, our Rochester diagnosis error attorneys can help you recover damages for your harm. With years of experience representing victims of medical malpractice, you can rest assured we know how to handle complicated misdiagnosis claims. 

Cervical Cancer Statistics

Cervical cancer takes place when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Different strains of the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, play a part in causing most cases of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of most common types of cancer among women in the world. In the U.S. alone, there are 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year, leading to 4,000 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The statute of limitations for New York medical malpractice lawsuits is currently 30 months. Generally, the time period for filing claims starts to run when the medical error occurred, although this might change if the Governor signs Lavern’s Law. Regardless, New York law recognizes an exception to the general rule. The continuous treatment doctrine extends, or tolls, the statute of limitations when a physician’s treatment has continued uninterrupted and is associated with the patient’s initial illness or condition.A New York appeals court ruled on this issue in Lewis v. Rutkovsky. The plaintiff brought a lawsuit against her primary care physician, alleging that he failed to detect, diagnose, and treat her meningioma. As a result of the alleged malpractice, the plaintiff underwent brain surgery that left her legally blind. The plaintiff first went to see the doctor in 1999 because she was experiencing migraines and blurred vision but did not file a lawsuit until 2010. She argued that this was still proper because her doctor ignored her complaints about her symptoms during the eight-year period of continuous treatment.

The court relied on earlier precedent to guide their decision. In Wilson v. Southampton Urgent Medical Care, P.C., the plaintiff received treatment on 11 separate occasions during a three-year period. The plaintiff’s symptoms included headaches, and she was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. Deposition testimony revealed that a brain tumor from metastasized lung cancer would cause headaches. The court allowed the claim to proceed because there was an issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff’s continuous treatment for headaches was traceable to the lung cancer.

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A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time period within which you may sue a person or company. The New York medical malpractice statute imposes a 30-month time limit from the date of the malpractice or from the end of continuous treatment. However, the New York legislature recently passed Lavern’s Law to, among other things, give people who receive a cancer misdiagnosis a more reasonable time period to assert a malpractice claim.

The New York legislature first considered revising the medical malpractice statute after the death of a New York woman, whose cancer was misdiagnosed on two separate occasions. The woman visited Kings County Hospital with chest pain and received an X-ray. She was sent home after a first-year resident told her it looked fine. Later, she began having difficulty breathing. Again, this was misdiagnosed with asthma symptoms. Finally, two years after the initial visit, doctors reexamined her old X-ray and noticed a small mass. By this time, the mass had developed into lung cancer and spread throughout her body. She died approximately a year later.

The woman’s lawsuit for medical malpractice was unsuccessful because the statute of limitations had expired by the time she filed suit. New York is currently one of only six states that starts the statute of limitations when the medical mistake is made, not the moment the mistake is discovered. Lavern’s Law would change this feature of the current law so that the timing for cancer misdiagnoses would begin at the moment of discovery.

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