Last time, we looked briefly at new lung cancer screening technology and noted that physicians have the duty to take appropriate action with regard to cancer screening, whether this means referring a patient to a specialist or ordering appropriate tests for the patient.
Cancer screening is a bit tricky, because there are different screening guidelines for different types of cancer and these rules change over time. In addition, different organizations have slightly different screening recommendations. That being said, there is a great deal of agreement in these recommendations, and patients should not suppose that their physicians are without clear guidelines when it comes to medical recommendations.
Regardless of the type of cancer screening one is talking about, physicians are expected to have a basic understanding of commonly used screening tests and when they are warranted. Physicians are expected to have the ability to recognize possible symptoms of various types of cancer as well, and to know when it is appropriate to refer to a cancer expert.
Failure to inform a patient of existence and appropriateness of cancer screening may, in some cases, have no harmful result for the patient. In some cases, though, it can lead to a delayed cancer diagnosis and more aggressive treatment than would have been required had the diagnosis been obtained earlier.
Patients who have been impacted by a physician’s failure to recommend cancer screening can potentially pursue the physician in court for compensation, but it is important to work with an experienced attorney to have the case evaluated. Proving that a physician was negligent in failing to recommend cancer screening isn’t necessarily an easy matter, and requires clear evidence that an established standard of care was breached. An experienced attorney will be able to look at the evidence and determine the merits of a case, and whether or not it is worth pursuing.