When it comes to detecting cervical cancer in a timely manner, a patient is at the mercy of a laboratory company. If a laboratory misreads a result, precancerous cells can metastasize, unchecked.
If you believe a laboratory’s misreading of your results allowed your cervical cancer to develop or worsen, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out whether you may have a claim, contact a failure to diagnose cervical cancer lawyer at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. Let us use our years of experience advocating for patients to help your case. Call 631-600-0000 now.
Cause of Cervical Cancer
The virus responsible for the cellular abnormalities that lead to cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). While many strains of this virus exist, two of the particularly high-risk strains (HPV 16 and HPV 18) cause the majority of cervical cancers.
The human body can fend off many HPV strains within two years without the infection evolving into cancer. If a high-risk HPV infection persists, however, it will eventually cause precancerous lesions to form. It could take 10-20 years for high-risk HPV to result in cervical cancer.
Diagnostic tests screen for the presence of both the presence of abnormal cells (a “Pap test” or “Pap smear”) and the presence of high-risk strains of HPV itself. These tests take place in the office of a gynecologist or other women’s health care provider.
When a laboratory misreads a Pap smear sample, the gynecologist may provide the patient with a false negative report. This means that, despite having a precancerous condition, the patient receives no further testing and no treatment. The eventual result could be squamous cell carcinoma.
Causes of Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer
Laboratory companies, like many businesses, are often understaffed. Laboratory technicians must often work quickly, potentially leading to the inaccurate analysis of slides. Misreading the samples entrusted to them can result in the failure to identify precancerous cells.
Many different laboratory errors can lead to a false negative report. Many, however, stem from rushing through protocol (or skipping it altogether) to process more samples. Common mistakes include:
- Misdirecting the sample so that the proper screening is not performed
- Mislabeling the sample
- Failing to maintain or calibrate equipment
- Confusing the sample with that of another patient
- Failing to adhere to procedures that prevent contamination of a sample
- Correct analysis, but an incorrect reading
Do I Have a Valid Case?
If a laboratory provides a false negative result, the laboratory may have deviated from the duty of care it owes to its patients. In a situation involving a medical professional, we sometimes call it “professional negligence” or “malpractice.”
If a laboratory breached its duty of care, and that breach caused you to suffer damages, you may be entitled to compensation.
We must be able to prove the laboratory engaged in malpractice. This will involve establishing the following:
Standard of care: All medical professionals must act according to a standard of care. This differs by field and profession, but essentially, it is the duty to act as another reasonable professional in the same field and profession would have acted.
Failure to meet standard of care: The laboratory performed under this standard. For example, if another laboratory with proper staffing would have been able to identify the precancerous cells, the lab in question failed to meet standard of care.
Causation and Damages: This element is two-fold. We must establish:
- You suffered actual injuries (e.g., if the laboratory mixed up your sample but then realized a week later and gave you the correct test results, you do not have a valid case as you did not suffer injury); and
- The failure to diagnose enabled your disease to progress without treatment.
Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer
Delay or failure to diagnose cervical cancer can imperil a woman’s physical, mental, and reproductive health. It can even lead to death. All these damages create additional financial burdens for which a negligent party should pay.
Apart from death, another major problem in these cases is the necessity of aggressive, invasive medical care. Surgery and hospitalization carry many risks, among them being:
- Further medical errors (such as damage to other nearby organs)
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- The development of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections
Even error-free surgeries result in life-altering ramifications, such as those from a radical hysterectomy and lymph node removal. These consequences can be psychologically traumatic even for women who had not planned to have children at the time of their ultimate diagnosis.
Some types of compensation we have helped victims of medical negligence recover include:
- Cost of medical bills (past, current, and future)
- Expenses for long-term care (facility-based or home health care)
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Lost earnings and lost earning capacity
- Long-term or permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of hobbies, activities, and family time
- Physical pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Other wrongful death compensation
Our Team is Ready to Review Your Case
The personal injury attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. work with medical experts to bolster your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Let our team review your situation. We will let you know whether we believe you have a case for laboratory malpractice. Our careful review of your situation will cost you nothing.