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Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis Explained

Hearing the words cervical cancer can be terrifying and life-altering. In many cases, when cervical cancer is caught early, doctors can successfully treat it. However, when cancer is undiagnosed, undetected, or incorrectly diagnosed, these events can harm the victim, resulting in catastrophic results.  

The medical malpractice lawyers at the Villari Firm offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the facts of your case. With more than two decades of experience in fighting for the rights of medical malpractice victims, Heidi Villari and her team want to help you seek justice.

If you suspect that you received substandard medical care, call (215)-600-1363 or contact us online. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case.

Diagnosing Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is also called “the silent killer” because it can occur without overt symptoms in the early stages. Diagnosing cervical cancer early can be the difference between life and death. Precancerous changes in the cervix can generally be detected through routine Pap smear and HPV tests. Upon receiving abnormal results, doctors following the standard of care will typically order additional tests/procedures. Below we outline the tests that doctors should order.

Colposcopy

A colposcopy is a medical test where the doctor inserts a colposcope into the vagina to visually examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva. It is similar to a routine pelvic exam, but the doctor uses this specific medical magnifying instrument to more closely examine the tissues for signs which could indicate cervical cancer. During this procedure, the doctor may also perform a tissue biopsy.

Biopsy

A biopsy removes a small amount of tissue from a suspicious area to allow for further testing in a laboratory. It may be done in conjunction with a colposcopy or as a separate procedure.

Endocervical Scraping

Also called “endocervical curettage,” endocervical scraping involves inserting an instrument called a curette (small brush) into the vagina to collect tissue cells from the endocervical canal (the part of the cervix that is closest to the uterus). The sample is then sent to the laboratory for testing.

Cone Biopsy

Also called a “conization,” a cone biopsy is when a doctor removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix for further testing in a laboratory. This is a more invasive procedure, and anesthetics are involved. The two most common methods for cone biopsies are:

  • Loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP, LLETZ): A local anesthetic is applied, and a thin wire loop, heated by electricity, is used to remove the area of tissue. This procedure may occur in a doctor’s office.

Cold knife cone biopsy: Generally done in a hospital, general anesthesia or epidural is given, and the tissue is removed using a scalpel or a laser.

Causes of Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis

Medical malpractice can occur when a missed or misdiagnosis of cervical cancer results in harm. A missed diagnosis occurs when the cancer is not diagnosed or the diagnosis is delayed. In contrast, a misdiagnosis occurs when the cancer is diagnosed as another condition or at an incorrect level.

Misclassification

When cervical cancer is diagnosed at the wrong level, it is referred to as misclassification. When misclassification occurs, cancer can progress and become more difficult to treat and metastasize to other parts of the body. As a result, treatment can be much more painful and invasive, and recovery prognosis can be drastically lessened. Misclassification also refers to the identification of cancer when in actuality, the tissue is healthy.

Failure to Diagnose

Misreading tests, ordering the wrong tests, or in some instances, tests not being done at all are the most common reasons leading to a failure in diagnosing cervical cancer. Failing to take a complete patient history or dismissing symptoms can also lead to a failure to diagnose.

Wrong Diagnosis

A wrong diagnosis occurs when cervical cancer is diagnosed as something else. Treating the victim for the wrong condition can lead to catastrophic harm. While being treated for the wrong diagnosis, cancer can worsen and spread and treatment of the wrong condition can cause harmful and unnecessary side effects to the victim. In a wrong diagnosis, the victim can potentially be worse off than if they had never sought treatment.   

Delayed Diagnosis

The correct diagnosis is eventually reached in a delayed diagnosis, but the victim still suffers harm due to the extra time it takes to get an accurate diagnosis. At the Villari Firm, our misdiagnosis lawyers can help you determine if your diagnosis was reached in a reasonable amount of time.

Diagnostic Negligence

Doctors are legally and ethically responsible for providing a reasonable standard of care to their patients. Facilities conducting tests are responsible for ensuring that tests are carried out correctly and reports are accurate. When harm results from diagnostic negligence, it may be medical malpractice.

Examples of diagnostic negligence include:

  • Failing to collect the test specimen correctly
  • Failing to order standard tests that would be consistent with symptoms
  • Misreading test results 
  • Failing to follow up with a patient about test results
  • Failure to recommend additional follow up testing on abnormal pap smear results
  • Failing to take a complete history of the patient 
  • Improperly conducting a test
  • Making errors in test results/reporting
  • Mixing up patient test results

Injuries Caused By the Failure to Accurately Diagnose

Failing to accurately or timely diagnose cervical cancer can result in catastrophic harm to the victim. Examples of harm include premature death, loss of reproductive organs, pain, and lost expenses due to the wrong treatment.

Premature Death

Cervical Cancer can generally be treated with a high success rate if caught at the early stages. If it is not caught early, cancer can progress and spread. If cancer metastasizes, it can potentially lead to death. 

Loss of Reproductive Organs

Misdiagnosed cervical cancer can require treatment which results in the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy), loss of the ovaries, or other tissues necessary to the reproductive system.

Physical Pain

Cervical cancer that is not caught early can spread to the nerve endings, bones, muscles, or other tissues and cause severe pain. While pain may be alleviated by prescribed medications, additional medical procedures and treatments may be required to manage the pain on a long-term basis.

Lost Expenses for Wrong Treatment

Being misdiagnosed can be financially devastating. Needing to pay for increased or unnecessary costs of treatment and the process of rehabilitation can be very expensive. Lost wages and loss of mental health can also significantly harm a victim of medical malpractice.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

If you believe you’ve experienced medical malpractice regarding your cervical cancer diagnosis, contact our medical malpractice lawyers. We will listen to you explain the life-changing events that you have experienced, analyze the facts of your case, consult with respected experts, and work directly with you to develop the best possible strategy for your case. 

At every step of the process, the team at the Villari Firm is by your side, fighting for your rights. To speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your cervical cancer case, call Heidi Villari of the Villari Firm at (215)-977-4796 or online by clicking here. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case.

Contact The Villari Firm, PLLC today for your free consultation.

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