On average, 30,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland every year. In the region of 10 per cent of all cancer cases relate to breast cancer and according to The Irish Times, October 13, 2012 more than a quarter of the legal actions taken against Irish hospitals for alleged cancer misdiagnosis over the past eight years related to cases of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer survival rates continue to increase year on year with a very high percentage of people surviving the disease. Mistakes by medical staff are sometimes made however and if those mistakes cause an injury of some kind, make the disease harder to treat or create a lower chance of survival, a clinical negligence claim may be possible.
Things which can go wrong
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
There are many different causes of patients receiving a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. Some of the most common involve:
GP’s failing to refer a patient for further tests when they present at the surgery with symptoms such as a lump in their breast or underarm.
Insufficient tests being carried out when a lump is found. For example a negative mammogram should be followed up with a scan, needle aspiration or biopsy as there is a risk of a false negative result from a mammogram particularly in an older lady.
The results of a test being read incorrectly and a negative result given instead of a positive.
All surgery carries a degree of risk and to make a claim against a surgeon you have to be able to prove that the mistake they made was unreasonable and below the expected standard.
One example of surgical error would be failing to remove sufficient tissue to ensure the removal of all cancerous cells.
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