Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the UK. Over 50,000 new patients are diagnosed each year (mostly, but not exclusively, women). The survival rate for breast cancer is however increasing every year due to the fantastic research by Cancer UK and their scientists who are striving to put an end to breast cancer altogether.
The UK has a very good screening system and doctors are well trained in diagnosing breast cancer as well as very public campaigns on how women can check themselves for early signs of breast cancer, but despite all this mistakes can be made and patients may look to make a claim for compensation when medical negligence can be proven against a doctor or medical professional.
Medical Negligence With Regards Of Breast Cancer
It may seem odd to be talking about medical negligence in terms of breast cancer as nobody can infect you or give you breast cancer whatever mistake they make. With breast and other types of cancer the types of medical negligence we’re talking about are delayed diagnosis or complete misdiagnosis of the cancer in the first place, or surgical errors while treating the breast cancer:
Delayed Or Misdiagnosed Breast Cancer
No doctor would intentionally stop a patient from receiving treatment for breast cancer but common mistakes that happen include: Misreading of a test result leading to the patient being told that cancer was not present; The GP that the patient visited failing to send them for tests after they’ve presented with breast cancer symptoms like a lump in the breast.
A hospital may fail to do follow up tests after a negative (or possibly false-negative) test result. If a lump exists but the mammogram comes back as a false result for cancer then the hospital should order further tests to confirm it’s negative such as a biopsy to test the lump, a needle aspiration or a scan.
It is quite difficult to prove that a surgeon has made an error when treating breast cancer but if they’ve not removed enough tissue to eliminate the cancer completely then there could be a case of medical negligence especially if it could be proven that other professionals with the same experience would’ve removed more tissue from the breast.
What Makes A Successful Breast Cancer Medical Negligence Claim
With all types of medical negligence there are two things that need to be proven.
Firstly there needs to be proof that a doctor or medical professional has operated at standards that are below expectation. If it can be proven that other doctors would’ve done things differently or that the doctor has breached the expected standards for any procedure then the solicitor needs to move on to secondly prove that the negligence has led to the patients condition i.e. if the doctor had acted earlier then the cancer could’ve been treated or prevented from spreading.
Time Limits For Claiming For Medical Negligence
When a patient considers making a claim for medical negligence with regards breast cancer there are strict time limits in place.
The patient needs to begin the claim process within 3 years of realising they had cancer – not the date of misdiagnosis or treatment. Even though it is a very tough time while dealing with the actual cancer treatment it is advisable to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to begin the claim.
Choosing A Solicitor To Make A Claim For Breast Cancer Medical Negligence
Some patients find discussing cancer difficult with their close family so to discuss it with a legal professional can be almost as traumatic so it’s worth spending some time meeting solicitors who offer a free consultation to ensure they can understand them and are OK with their style of working.
It is also advisable that patients ask any potential solicitor to provide evidence of recent cancer cases that they’ve worked on and been successful in claiming compensation for.
No solicitor will mind questions and they expect to receive them. Most will have reference cases available as examples and may be able to provide face to face meetings with previous clients.