Abnormal Cancer Test Results Go Unreported By Physician For Three Years

 By: J. Hernandez
Men tend to possess a bad understanding of prostate cancer, their own risk for the cancer, and the methods available for detecting if they have prostate cancer. Many men have minimal, if any, knowledge of the merit of screening for prostate cancer or of the guidelines for when they should commence testing, how frequently to screen, and the meaning of screening test results. They believe that their physician will do whatever is appropriate to find any cancer early and cure them.

Delayed diagnosis of prostate cancer examples are all too common. One common type of medical mistake that forms the basis for these cases comes about when a man's primary care physician (1) actually screens the individual for prostate cancer by checking the amount of PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) in his bloodstream, (2) records abnormally elevated levels of PSA and yet (3) neither tells the patient of abnormal results (and what they signify) nor orders diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, to eliminate prostate cancer. Examine the following lawsuit, for example:

A physician, an internist, found that his male patient had a PSA of 8. (anything above a 4.0 is ordinarily considered high). The physician did not tell the patient. The physician failed to refer the patient to a urologist. The doctor did not order a biopsy. Two years later the physician repeated the PSA test. This time the PSA level had risen to 13.6. Once again, the physician said nothing to the patient. Again, the physician did not refer the patient to a urologist. And again, the doctor did not order a biopsy. Two years later the physician repeated the PSA test. It was not until three years after first learning of the patient's raised PSA level that the doctor finally advised him that he probably had cancer. By the time he was diagnosed he had advanced prostate cancer and surgery was not among the treatment alternatives. Treating doctors alternatively advised radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Neither of these would eliminate the cancer but they might decrease the cancer's advancement and further spread. The law firm that handled this matter reported that they took the claim to mediation where they were able to obtain a settlement of $600,000.

If they do not do anything when the tests indicate the possiblity of cancer and the patient later learns that he had prostate cancer and that the delay lead to it spreading outside the prostate gland therefore limiting treatment alternatives and lowering his possibility of surviving the cancer, the person might be able to successfully pursue a claim against the doctor.

At a minimum a physician who notes abnormal prostate cancer screening results ought to tell the patient of the chance that he may have prostate cancer and refer the patient to a urologist. The physician can likewise suggest diagnostic testing, like a biopsy in order to find out whether the abnormal screening test results come from prostate cancer.

As the above case demonstrates physicians sometimes follow the guidelines in performing screening for prostate cancer but when the test results are abnormal they do not follow through.
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