Tens of thousands of women are newly diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and every year forty thousand lives are claimed by the disease. Certainly treatment options have improved over the last few decades, but we still don’t have a uniform manner of treatment. Each person is different and that means different treatment. We all know someone who has been through breast cancer — but how many of us know someone who has been the victim of breast cancer medical malpractice?

Many of us wouldn’t recognize it if we saw it, which is why we should all know a little bit more about the warning signs. These cases are uncommon, but claims are rarely paid out because victims aren’t very likely to come forward — or sometimes because they can’t. On rare occasions malpractice results in a lost life, which means the case turns into a wrongful death lawsuit lodged by the victim’s family.

One of the biggest reasons behind malpractice is misreading lab results. Both lab techs and doctors are guilty of missing important details, most of which are obscure. Misreading a lab test can result in misdiagnosis or improperly prescribed medication. When breast cancer is misdiagnosed, the disease can evade detection for longer and become even more life-threatening than before. When the misdiagnosis results in the wrong medication being prescribed, the cancer can spread faster. In addition, medications can result in unwanted side effects that impede an immune system’s ability to function properly.

Speaking of lab results, breast cancer victims will likely undergo a strict family history check and subsequent screening for certain genes that might help or hurt the immune system’s chance to fight the disease. If a doctor does not complete the family history, or fails to fill in all the required details, the consequences can be disastrous for the patient. This can result in the aforementioned misdiagnosis.

Women who regularly check themselves for lumps in their breasts might be spared from a scary prognosis, but sometimes doctors will fail to find what the patient did. If you find a lump, but your doctor can’t find anything wrong, then it might be time to find a second or third opinion. Your life is more important. 

There are other causes of malpractice. One of the biggest is a break in communication. Make sure you and your doctor are sharing all the information you have, and ask questions about how the information is transferred to the people who need it.