BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT DURING COVID – THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY THE SOULS OF PATIENTS AND DOCTORS ALIKE
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every aspect of life, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for breast cancer, breastcancer.org explains. In fact, many hospitals stopped performing breast reconstruction procedures, because public health authorities had recommended that elective surgeries be postponed…
Because of the pandemic, doctors and hospitals have needed to consider many factors, including:
- According to the CDC, having cancer increases one’s risk of serious complications if one becomes infected with COVID-19.
- All standard chemotherapy drugs and targeted therapies weaken the immune system and can cause lung problems.
- Women with COPD, heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease are particularly at risk, along with obese women and those who smoke:
- There have been delays in clinical visits, routine mammograms, hormonal therapy, and mastectomies, and particularly in breast reconstruction immediately following mastectomies.
There is a legal aspect to all the delays and to the failure to diagnose and timely treat breast cancer patients. Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can be grounds for medical malpractice lawsuit.
The fact that a clinic or hospital was trying to protect women by keeping them away from COVID-19 patients already in the hospital does not negate the fact that mis-diagnosis, and even delayed diagnosis and treatment, can worsen a women’s medical condition.
How can breast cancer be misdiagnosed?
- One type of cancer is diagnosed and treated (through the misreading of a mammogram or ultrasound) when a women actually has a different type of cancer
- A woman is diagnosed with cancer when some other condition is the cause of her symptoms; the cancer treatment produces serious side effects, causing permanent harm to her body.
As personal injury attorneys with more than 40 years’ experience, we realize that lawsuits involving breast cancer have been common long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In fact, as thedoctors.com explains, suits involving breast cancer or the most common cause of malpractice litigation in the U.S., with the vast majority of cases alleging a delay in diagnosis.
We remind our clients that, in response to the coronavirus disease, healthcare providers and institutions have often recommended delaying the treatment of some patients with cancer, with the intent of reducing patient exposure to the virus and preserving resources for those seriously ill. As one article in Frontiers for Public Health emphasizes, “clinicians were called to find a compromise between the benefit achieved by immediate treatment and the possible odds of infection.”
At Ramey & Hailey Law, we encourage cancer patients who feel they have been victims of malpractice to initiate a conversation with us on the subject.