Improper Screening Lawyers in Philadelphia
With some medical conditions, early detection can make the difference between successful treatment and a worsened prognosis. Fortunately, there are standards in place that require tests when certain symptoms present themselves. Problems can manifest, however, when medical professionals don’t follow the appropriate standards for screening when indicated.
Problems with improper screening can also rear their head when trying to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a medical procedure. In some cases, complications from an ill-advised procedure can linger for years or result in dire consequences.
Improper Screening Can Result in Delayed Diagnoses
With some conditions, early detection is all-important. However, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, “Cases of delayed, missed and incorrect diagnosis are common, with an incidence in the range of 10 to 20 percent.”
In pregnancy, proper screening according to a recommended schedule can make the difference between a successful intervention and a birth injury such as cerebral palsy, which can cause lifelong complications.
In the case of breast cancer, the five-year survival rates plummet in cases that aren’t caught in the earliest stages. The American Cancer Society lists the following survival rates:
- 100 percent for stage 1 breast cancer
- 93 percent for stage 2 breast cancer
- 72 percent for stage 3 breast cancer
- 22 percent for stage 4 breast cancer
Doctor viewing mammogram. Source: Wikipedia
This is why the American Cancer Society has a guideline of annual screening for women between 45 and 54, which changes to a biannual recommendation for women 55 and older. Delays in this recommended screening schedule can be deadly.
Conversely, Missed Diagnoses Can Result in Improper Screening
Other cancer screenings are based on the proper understanding of symptoms and risk factors. Colorectal cancer screenings should start at age 45, but their frequency is determined by the patient’s doctor, in accordance with their risk factors. If screening is delayed due to a misunderstanding of indications, it might be grounds for a medical malpractice suit.
For colon cancer, the prognosis drops rapidly with each successive stage of progression. The American Cancer Society gives the following five-year survival rates:
- 93 percent for stage 1 colon cancer
- 78 percent for stage 2 colon cancer
- 59 percent for stage 3 colon cancer
- 8 percent for stage 4 colon cancer
Improper Screening of Patients Can Cause Surgical Complications
Doctors are also required to assess whether a patient is a good candidate for a medical procedure before recommending the procedure. In certain cases, proper screening for applicability can be a matter of life and death.
Improper screening survey results. Source: Flickr, shared under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license
Certain impairments can result in ill-advised surgery — with only careful screening separating patients from a worsened prognosis as a result. For instance, many patients with deteriorating eyesight seek cataract surgery to improve their eyesight. However, surgery may not help or even lead to total vision loss for some patients.
Improper screening for some procedures can cause unpredictable consequences which can reverberate far into the future. Sometimes poor screening practices can result in the patient’s body rejecting a skin graft, transplanted organ or surgical implant. When a poor candidate for such a procedure makes it through the screening process, it can indicate improper screening.
What to Hold Doctors Accountable For
When diagnosing or treating a condition or surgical indication, proper screening may require physicians to:
- Refer the patient to an appropriate specialist or facility for examination or testing
- Perform a thorough and complete physical examination given the patient’s symptoms
- Implement an appropriate treatment plan
- Order lab tests or imaging studies
Medical malpractice may be indicated if improper screening results in:
- A delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis
- Increased risk of the recurrence, spread or severity of a condition
- Injuries or other damages
When to Consult with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney
With injuries stemming from improper screening, the best course of action is to consult with skilled attorneys like those at McEldrew Young Purtell as soon as possible. With 30 years of experience in medical malpractice, McEldrew Young Purtell is well suited to evaluate the situation and help determine if the injury suffered involved acts of medical negligence or professional malpractice.