New diagnostic system may help reduce errors in cancer diagnosis

New Jersey residents are likely aware that cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in the U.S. Even though many strides in medical treatment and technology have been made, the failure to diagnose cancer is not uncommon. This can delay treatment, cause unnecessary distress to patients and their families and even result in death.

Doctors say that because the process of getting a biopsy involves multiple steps and the results go through many hands, errors can happen. In an effort to improve cancer diagnoses, a few doctors across the U.S. are utilizing a new system to minimize errors in breast cancer biopsies. The company that developed the system found mistakes were most often made as results were returned to the doctor’s office from the lab.

This new system compares the patient’s genetic information against the biopsy sample to ensure there is a match and it is the right patient. The goal is to ensure that the results are for the right patient and that invasive procedures, such as breast removal, are not performed on the wrong patient or on the wrong side. Recently, a mother of three who found a lump in her breast had her surgeon use the new system to confirm that her initial negative diagnosis for cancer was indeed negative.

It is important for patients to understand that despite advances in medical technology, doctors and labs can make mistakes. When medical errors occur, the consequences for the affected patient and their families can be dire and cause unnecessary pain and suffering, emotional distress and more.

If a patient’s disease goes untreated due to a misdiagnosis or a patient endures intensive treatment due to a wrong diagnosis, the healthcare provider of the patient may be found negligent and held liable for damages. Doctors have an ongoing duty to ensure that a reasonable standard of care is provided. The area of medical malpractice is complex and individuals impacted by a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis may want to seek the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure they understand their legal options.

Source: Fox 59, “Local Company engineers system to reduce errors in cancer diagnoses,” Vanessa McClure, Nov. 16, 2012