Picture finding out that you have prostate cancer. That’s hard because “cancer” is a word that brings with it a feeling of terror at the very though. Still perhaps, you tell yourself, possibly it is not that bad. Maybe we diagnosed it before it metastasized and with the right treatment I’ll beat it.
Still it gets worse. Imagine then finding out that is too late for that. The cancer is alreaddy outside the prostate and has reached other areas of your body. A cure is therefore no longer a possibility. Treatment will at most slow down the progress of the disease. And later, after that treatment no longer works, treatment that will lessen the pain from the ever growing cancer.
Perhaps you ask yourself, “Why me?” “Was it just poor luck?” And then you will likely ask “Was there any way this could have been avoided?” “Was there anything I might have changed that would have averted what now is an incurable disease?”
And then the news gets still worse. Envision at this point discovering that your physician, the individual you trusted to keep you healthy and to alert you of any possible health problems, had information that you were at risk of having prostate cancer. Think about finding out that your physician had this information for at least a year before you were told you had cancer. And picture finding out that had your doctor had given you this information when it was first available your cancer could have been discovered while it was still contained within the prostate gland and could have been cured, could have been eliminated with proper treatment.
Do you believe that such a thing could not happen to you? Then consider the matters below:
For a three year time frame a primary care physician did not inform his patient that the results of blood tests showed that the individual’s PSA level was not only elevated it was actually rising. When the doctor eventually informed his patient about the abnormal test results the diagnosis was metastatic prostate cancer. The only options available for treatment at that point were radiation therapy and hormone therapy – used in an attempt to slow the cancer’s growth and spread.
In addition to failing to tell the patient that he had an elevated and rising PSA, the doctor actually advised him that the test results were normal. The patient found out he had prostate cancer because he consulted with a urologist at the urging of a family member. The diagnosis – prostate cancer that had spread to the seminal vesicles.
A primary care physician conducted a physical examination of the patient’s prostate gland and noticed that his prostate gland had a hardened area. The physician failed to tell the man. The doctor did not refer the man to a urologist for a consult. The physician also did not order a biopsy to figure out whether the hardened area was cancerous or benign. When the patient eventually discovered the cancer it had already metastasized to other parts of his body.
For 2 1/22 years a male patient’s doctor had information that his PSA levels were high. When the individual was ultimately diagnosed with prostate cancer he tried surgery hoping that the cancer was still confined to the prostate gland and that surgery could remove the cancer. He also underwent months of hormonal therapy. And then post-surgical PSA levels found that the surgery did not eliminate the cancer and that it is still present in his body.
Each of the matters discussed above led to a medical malpractice claim. The law firms that handled these lawsuits reported being able to resolve the claims in amounts that ranged from $ 400,000 to $ 1,500,000.
Far too many men end up in situations just like the above. Whether the physicians fail to look at the results of the tests, whether they take the position that there is no need to take action even though the PSA is elevated or a nodule of a certain size is detected in the prostate, or whether they simply do not accept the guidelines and the standard of care for the action that is appropriate when screening results are abnormal, these physicians cause a delay that ends up with the growth and spread of the cancer.
A number of physicians are of the opinion that there is no advantage to screening men for prostate cancer (or do not understand the standard of care) and either just do not screen their male patients or recommend against it. Other physicians do not review the results of screening tests while other doctors do not follow up on an abnormal screening test result and not order a biopsy or refer the patient to a specialist. The result is often tragic: an unnecessary death from a cancer that could have been cured if found while in the early stages.
Imagine being the patient who received such news. You would likely fight the cancer as hard and as long as you could. What if you were his spouse? What if you were his child? What if the patient was your son? You would help him fight the cancer and you offer him all the love and support you had to give.
Perhaps you might choose to bring a case for medical malpractice to help protect your family’s future. And you might hope that if forced to confront the error and to incur a cost for it, maybe, just maybe, the doctor will improve how he or she treats other patients subsequently so that this tragedy will not arise again.