Failure to Diagnose Bladder and Urological Cancers
A bladder or urological cancer diagnosis is often physically and emotionally devastating. When a physician fails to diagnose your disease promptly, the delay allows your condition to worsen and spread. Unfortunately, this happens too frequently. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that during 2020 alone, 13,050 men and 4,930 women will die from bladder cancer. The ACS has no available statistics on failure to diagnose these cancerous conditions.
Medical professionals don’t always fail to listen to their patients’ complaints and don’t always delay testing, produce faulty results, delay treatment, or commit other negligent acts. When medical professionals fail in their duties, however, they give cancer time to grow, which may diminish a patient’s quality of life. A delayed cancer diagnosis may cause a person’s body to endure more pain and more physical deterioration. When a doctor doesn’t detect cancer and intervene promptly, patients may even lose their lives.
We Fight for Victims of Professional Medical Negligence
At The Levin Firm, our attorneys work hard to recover compensation for our injured clients. Since 2005, this has been our law firm’s primary goal. We provide high-quality legal services because we believe that injured victims deserve quality representation.
Our clients’ struggles with cancer are difficult enough. Sick individuals should never feel forced to deal with a failed diagnosis and treatment delays. We understand that, in most cases, health care providers don’t intentionally harm their sick patients, but we also realize that medical professionals are capable of error, just like any other human. We also recognize that our clients put their lives into healthcare professionals’ hands. Patients accept their doctors’ protocols and trust their advice, because patients hold providers to a high professional standard.
In past cases, we’ve seen how negligent physicians caused additional harm to patients who were already hurting. We’ve seen how a simple diagnostic mistake affected their lives, their families, and their peace of mind. We know that we can’t change what has happened to our clients. We fight hard to recover damages on their behalf because we know how financial resources will help our clients live better lives.
Our Law Firm’s Results
Our attorneys have always negotiated aggressively, but we’ve never believed in quick settlements that don’t provide fair compensation. We work to resolve our clients’ cases by evaluating the available evidence and working to produce the most favorable outcomes possible.
We negotiate settlements when we believe that we can reach a fair agreement. In past cases, we have participated in mediation, a cooperative process involving insurers, defense attorneys, and a neutral mediator. We have also worked through arbitration and court-arranged settlement conferences.
Our attorneys also recognize when a trial is the best option in a particular situation. That’s why we always prepare our cases for litigation. We rely on a strong presentation of evidence and on the confidence that we’ve gained over years of trial experience. We present strong cases to the court and allow the judge and jury to make the right decision.
Each malpractice case is unique. We cannot promise a specific result, but we invite you to visit our Client Testimonials Page to learn more about our client outcomes.
Bladder cancer is a type of urological cancer that forms when urinary tract cells mutate. Bladder and kidney cancers occur in both men and women, although this type of cancer affects men more frequently. Prostate, testicular, and penile cancer are also types of urological cancers.
While many different substances can cause urological cancer, tobacco, certain chemical exposures, and diet are the most common causes. In some patients, a genetic component may also contribute to their cancers. As with all cancers, early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment and recovery. When doctors fail to properly diagnose a patient, they can make a person’s recovery, and very survival, far more difficult, if not impossible.
Physicians will diagnose 81,400 new bladder cancers during 2020.
Based on the number of new diagnoses, bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer.
Men suffer from bladder cancer at higher rates than women.
Nine out of 10 bladder cancer victims are over the age of 55.
17,980 people will die from bladder cancer during 2020.
Diagnosing Urological Cancers
The American Cancer Society recommends prostate cancer screenings for men based on their age, risk factors, and desire to be tested. Physicians routinely provide information to male patients and discuss prostate cancer screenings. Healthcare professionals have no routine screening protocols for bladder cancer, however. Doctors usually recommend testing only if a person is experiencing symptoms or is at high risk for bladder cancer.
High-risk traits include:
Prior bladder cancer
Bladder birth defect
Certain chemical exposure in the workplace
During the early stages, bladder cancer patients sometimes experience blood in their urine, changes in urination habits, burning sensations, weak urine streams, and other problems. These and other symptoms are also common signs of non-cancerous conditions, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs). Initial diagnostic delays occur when doctors make judgment calls about testing for cancer versus treating patients for UTIs or other illnesses.
Doctors have several efficient procedures available for testing during bladder cancer’s early stages. Urinalysis allows a doctor to see blood in the urine, even when it’s not visible to the naked eye. Urine cytology lets a doctor view cancer cells in the urine using a microscope. Doctors can also examine a patient’s urine for tumor markers, such as chromosome changes, antigens, and high levels of the protein NMP22. A recent clinical trial determined that a liquid biopsy with UroCAD had a higher sensitivity to cancers with specificity equal to urine cytology.
Advanced Bladder Cancer Symptoms
Patients with more advanced bladder cancers exhibit a variety of more intense symptoms. These symptoms are also common to other conditions.
Again, doctors must make judgment calls when it comes to cancer testing. Advanced symptoms sometimes include:
Inability to urinate
One-sided lower back pain
No appetite and weight loss
Exhaustion and weakness
Bladder Cancer Stages
An initial diagnosis is critical, as it drives a physician to take further action. When doctors determine that a patient likely has bladder cancer, they must look for answers. Doctors order further diagnostic testing, such as biopsies, CT scans, and MRIs.
These tests help establish a bladder cancer’s stage by determining how much of the bladder is involved.
Adjacent tissues and organs
Lymph nodes and remote organs
Once doctors receive additional test results, the doctors will rate the bladder cancer based on a TNM scale: tumor growth, (lymph) node involvement, and metastasizing to other parts of the body.
Obstacles to Early Diagnosis
Bladder and urological cancers are often detectable during their early stages.
Early diagnostic testing requires cooperation and willingness among patients and their healthcare providers.
Patients must share their symptoms.
Doctors must listen to and acknowledge patients’ concerns.
Doctors must determine that testing is warranted.
Doctors must explain the pros and cons of diagnostic testing to patients.
Doctors must give patients the option to undergo diagnostic testing.
Patients must agree to diagnostic testing.
Medical technicians must perform the tests accurately.
Doctors must interpret the tests and convey the results.
None of this occurs if the medical professional doesn’t listen to and acknowledge the patient’s symptoms. Even when a physician hears and understands patients’ symptoms or complaints, he or she has ultimate control over what happens next. The patient usually has no way to influence the doctor’s decision.
This is particularly limiting for patients who rely on a health insurance plan or a health maintenance organization (HMO). These types of plans usually require that patients work with a primary care physician who coordinates all of their treatments. HMOs sometimes limit the time a patient has to interact with a healthcare provider. If patients want to see a specialist, their primary care physician must sign off on the referral.
Medical Professional Liability
Professional medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider commits a negligent act that injures a patient. Medical negligence also includes omissions that occur when a physician should have performed professional duties, but failed to do so. The terms medical malpractice and medical error also describe negligent medical acts.
Medical negligence includes these acts and others, including:
Negligent omissions during a complicated childbirth
Inappropriate or negligently performed surgery
Inappropriate or dangerous treatment practices
Negligent mental health practices
Medical Professional Liability Is a Leading Cause of Death
It’s been several years since Johns Hopkins researchers first published their study naming medical error as the third-leading U.S. cause of death. This had never been documented, as the death certificate completion process doesn’t generally capture negligent medical acts. The 2016 study determined that malpractice contributed to approximately 250,000 deaths in America each year and ranked malpractice as the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Misdiagnosis Is the Leading Medical Error
Medical professionals commit negligence during the diagnostic process more frequently than any other medical error. The British Medical Journal confirmed this in its study: “The epidemiology of malpractice claims in primary care: a systematic review.” Researchers reviewed statistics from 34 malpractice claim studies from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and France. The study concluded that 26 to 63 percent of paid malpractice claims involved missed or delayed diagnoses. In adult patients, a high rate of diagnosis errors involved cancer and myocardial infarction.
Medical Professional Liability Claims
When a doctor fails to diagnose bladder cancer or other urological cancers, the results are often devastating. Until cancer patients receive treatment, they often endure ongoing pain and discomfort. Their condition worsens and treatment options become more radical and sometimes less effective. When medical professionals diagnose bladder or other urological cancers in their early stages, patients experience more positive outcomes. Early treatment relieves a patient’s symptoms sooner. Patients require less radical treatment options and have a higher chance of survival.
When patients endure more pain and suffering due to a diagnostic failure, they have a right to recover damages. The indemnification concept for medical negligence claims is similar to vehicle accident and slip and fall cases. A harmed person has a legal right to make a claim or file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, the recovery process is usually more complicated.
Medical Negligence Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
Each state enacts its own malpractice laws. When a patient seeks to recover damages caused by a medical error, each state follows its own legal standards.
Provides an excess coverage fund for high-dollar medical negligence claims.
Requires that hospitals establish a safety committee to reduce medical errors.
Defines a “serious event” as an incident that causes a patient’s death, compromises a patient’s safety, results in unanticipated injury, or requires additional care and treatment.
Establishes serious event reporting requirements.
Requires that a medical facility report a serious event to patients, their guardians, or their families.
Establishes guidelines for subrogation and collateral source rules for plaintiffs who have wage losses and medical benefits resources.
Sets punitive damage standards.
Plaintiffs Must File a Certificate of Merit
Most state laws restrict malpractice lawsuits by requiring some form of pre-qualification. Pennsylvania law requires that a malpractice plaintiff submit a statement supported by an appropriate licensed professional. In lawsuits involving the patient’s informed consent, a medical professional must confirm that the defendant/medical professional “deviated from an acceptable professional standard.” In lawsuits involving care, skill, or knowledge, the certificate must confirm that a physician’s actions “fell outside acceptable professional standards.”
You Must Prove Your Case
When you file a malpractice lawsuit, you must produce evidence to document your case. This is often difficult to do, as the treating hospital or physicians usually have the medical records you need to prove your allegations. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law mandates that healthcare providers preserve and maintain accurate records. It further designates that any proven intentional records destruction or alteration is considered adverse interference. Any person who commits adverse interference is subject to licensure sanction.
Failure to Diagnose Bladder/Urological Cancer FAQ
When you receive a cancer diagnosis, your normal life comes to a halt. You focus on healing and recovering, and your treatment takes priority over everything else. If your healthcare provider delays your cancer diagnosis, that delay usually contributes to a less positive outcome. Diagnostic delays postpone the release of the critical information that your physicians need to initiate treatment. Without medical intervention, cancers continue growing while patients go on with their day-to-day lives.
Diagnostic errors occur more frequently than most people realize. When the error involves cancer, the consequences are often devastating. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with a failed cancer diagnosis, but it’s a good idea to know the facts. That’s why we’ve provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear from clients. Read on for more information.
How often do doctors misdiagnose patients?
Diagnostic delays and missed diagnoses occur frequently; in fact, diagnostic errors are the number one type of medical error in the United States. Missed and delayed diagnoses are often the focus of medical negligence claims and lawsuits. When British Medical Journal researchers reviewed malpractice claims in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and France, they determined that diagnosis errors comprised 26 to 63 percent of the claim payments.
Can I sue my doctor if he or she fails to diagnose my cancer?
Yes, you have a legal right to sue your healthcare provider if he or she injures you during treatment. Medical negligence often involves the commission of a negligent act. It also includes omissions of a necessary procedure or responsibility. A failed diagnosis sometimes involves both omissions and commissions.
What laws apply to medical negligence in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, MCARE establishes medical negligence standards and guidelines. Pennsylvania law outlines additional procedural guidelines for lawsuits
The Pennsylvania Legislature passed the law in 2002 and structured the provisions to serve multiple purposes:
Create a system for controlling and monitoring medical negligence cases
Establish consistent guidelines for determining medical negligence
Control and monitor medical negligence insurance companies
Fund excess exposures for high-dollar malpractice cases
Establish serious event reporting requirements
Establish hospital safety committees
Set standards for healthcare providers, hospitals, and other medical professionals
Provide a system for reporting serious events to MCARE and patients
Provide collateral source and subrogation guidelines
What is a certificate of merit?
When you file a lawsuit for medical negligence in Pennsylvania, a certificate of merit verifies that a qualified medical professional supports your position.
Informed Consent Lawsuit: The certificate must confirm that your medical professional deviated from an acceptable professional standard.
Medical Error Lawsuit: When a suit involves negligent care, skill, or knowledge, the certificate must confirm that a medical professional’s actions fell outside acceptable professional standards.
Pennsylvania law establishes requirements for filing, certificate deadlines, and certificates for multiple defendants. If you don’t file the qualifying document on time, the judge may dismiss your case.
What causes bladder and other urological cancers?
Bladder cancer is a type of urological cancer caused by cell mutation. Bladder and kidney urological cancers occur in both men and women, but affect men more frequently. Prostate, testicular, and penile cancer are also types of urological cancers. In some cases, cancerous cell mutations have a genetic component. Cigarettes, certain chemicals, diet, and other substances can trigger cell mutations.
How do doctors miss diagnosing bladder cancer?
When bladder cancer is in its early stages, symptoms are similar to non-cancerous conditions, such as urinary tract infections. Rather than move forward with cancer testing, doctors often proceed with treatment based on the more common illness.
How do I know if I have bladder cancer?
You might not know. Patients with early-stage bladder cancer sometimes develop minor symptoms. These often include blood in the urine, changing in urination habits, burning sensations during urination, and a weak urine stream. Because these symptoms are also common to urinary tract infections, your doctor might not recommend cancer testing.
How does a doctor diagnose bladder cancer in its early stages?
Doctors have several ways to test your urine for bladder cancer even before you notice serious symptoms.
Urinalysis: A doctor can see blood in your urine when it’s not yet noticeable.
Urine cytology: A doctor views your urine with a microscope.
Urine tumor markers: Urine tests show chromosome changes, antigens, and increased NMP22 protein levels.
UroCAD: This recent innovation, also known as a liquid biopsy. detects cancer in ways similar to cytology.
What happens if I don’t notice early bladder cancer symptoms?
If you don’t notice and/or mention early cancer symptoms to your doctor, you limit your chances of an early diagnosis. If you express your concerns, and your healthcare provider doesn’t test you during the early stages, you may begin to notice more advanced symptoms.
These symptoms are also signs of less serious conditions, however, and doctors must decide if cancer testing is warranted.
Lower back pain on one side
Lost appetite and weight
Tiredness and weakness
What tests do doctors use when they suspect advanced bladder cancer?
Doctors use their professional judgment and evaluate your condition to determine if they should move forward with more complex tests. If your doctors suspect that you have advanced-stage cancer, they should conduct the following tests:
What are the different cancer stages?
As cancer grows, the characteristics change. By determining your cancer’s position and unique characteristics, your doctor can determine the stage.
Your doctor will investigate the following areas:
Adjacent tissues and organs
Lymph nodes and remote organs
Physicians also use the TNM scale to rate cancer: tumor growth, (lymph) node involvement, and metastasizing to other body parts.
How can a medical negligence lawyer help?
When a doctor fails to diagnose bladder or other urological cancers, or some other life-threatening condition, some people feel it’s best to just let it go. Your doctor keeps you focused on treatment and healing; you don’t want to search for a new doctor; and you don’t know how to file a claim or lawsuit.
A lawyer helps you with these concerns and many others. Your lawyer will discuss your issues and explain your options. If you decide to pursue your claim, he or she will represent your interests and provide essential legal services to help you recover damages.
Arrange a confidential no-fee consultation. Even when you’re uncertain about your case or how you wish to proceed, attorneys will meet with you to address your options. A consultation is simply an information-sharing experience. You share basic information about your case, ask questions, and consider your options. Attorneys listen to your questions and respond. A good attorney will never pressure you to make a claim or file a lawsuit. Ultimately, that’s your decision.
Gather case information. When you decide to pursue a negligence claim against your doctor, your attorney requires more information. The information you provide will help your lawyer create a chronology of events and also helps direct the law firm’s investigative efforts.
Consider these examples of important case information:
Important occurrence dates
Identity of medical professionals involved in your treatment
Hospitals or healthcare facilities involved
Type of condition
The onset of initial symptoms
First discussions with your doctor about cancer
Any discussions about testing or not testing
The first date of your initial diagnostic test
Type of diagnostic tests performed
Date of your cancer diagnosis
Course of treatment
Any discussions with your physician about diagnosis problems
Address your concerns. It’s usually an emotionally stressful experience when you pursue a legal case against someone you once trusted. Despite your doctor’s negligent diagnosis, you may still be under his or her care. You’ll want to know if you should continue seeing that doctor for regular treatment. Should you discuss your pending legal action? Should you find a new doctor without explaining why?
These are all legitimate concerns. Once you establish a working relationship, your attorney will provide as much information as possible to help you make prudent decisions about your ongoing care. Attorneys also address your concerns about the claim and litigation process and how it will involve your healthcare professionals.
Represent your legal interests. When you present a medical negligence claim, healthcare professionals, self-insured medical facilities, and malpractice insurers want answers. If you don’t have a legal representative, investigators will likely contact you directly. They usually want to ask you a series of questions while they record your answers. They sometimes ask contradictory questions and use your answers as evidence against you.
When attorneys place negligent parties on notice that you’re legally represented, it stops these types of information requests. If someone calls you or shows up at your door asking questions, you should tell them to contact your attorney.
Work on your case without billing you a monthly fee. When attorneys agree to handle your medical negligence case, they perform legal services on a contingency basis. That means you never see a monthly fee bill until your attorney resolves your case. Attorneys charge a fee that’s based on a percentage of your final settlement or damages award. That fee percentage usually increases if your attorney must file a lawsuit and present your case at trial.
Investigate your malpractice case. Medical negligence cases are different from auto liability claims. Your attorney’s investigation concentrates on your version of events, your health, your medical records, and your healthcare providers’ omissions and negligent acts.
Your attorney focuses on obtaining critical pieces of evidence.
Securing and reviewing your medical records. The medical records your attorney needs are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA.) You have a right to access and review your own medical records online, and you may also give your attorneys access by providing them with personal representative status.
Identifying any nurses, secretaries, lab technicians, independent labs, or other medical professionals involved in your diagnosis and treatment. These types of witnesses are often unavailable, as they are sometimes insured and/or protected by their employers.
Identifying an appropriate licensed professional to support a certificate of merit to accompany your lawsuit.
Arrange an independent medical examination to assess your health.
Evaluate your case. When attorneys have all of the available evidence, they will evaluate your case to assess liability and damages. They will consider the evidence and discuss your physical health with a medical expert. If your attorney’s investigation concludes that your physician’s actions were outside a professional standard of care, your attorney will determine the overall value of your claim.
To determine your potential damages, your attorney will evaluate the physical and emotional losses associated with your physician’s delayed diagnosis. This evaluation attempts to determine how the failed diagnosis caused you to experience pain, suffering, impairments, and lost income, and how all of this has diminished your quality of life. To determine a potential settlement range, your attorney will review past cases and court judgments with similar circumstances.
Negotiate a settlement. If the insurance carriers, self-insured facilities, and other involved entities cooperate, your attorney may have an opportunity to settle your case. MCARE will often get involved in claim negotiations if it anticipates excess exposure.
File a lawsuit. When the timing is appropriate, your attorney will prepare and file a lawsuit alleging medical professional negligence. The complaint will name you and your spouse as the plaintiffs and the negligent medical professionals as defendants. The defendants must file a response by the answer date.
In these types of cases, plaintiffs and defendants participate in a formal discovery process. Each party seeks depositions, medical records, and other evidence to confirm previously acquired information and learn about additional evidence. Settlement efforts usually continue while litigation is pending. In some cases, the parties settle cases without further legal action.
Participate in alternative dispute resolution. Pennsylvania courts don’t mandate alternative dispute resolution (ADR), but MCARE often relies on it to resolve cases.
MCARE’s Annual Report documented that 141 medical negligence cases engaged in ADR, including:
Six monetary cap trial agreements
ADR encourages plaintiffs and defendants to share information and cooperate to settle cases. Pennsylvania has no statutory damage caps for medical negligence cases. With monetary cap trial agreements, the parties agree to limit the damage amount before trying the case.
Present your case at trial. If plaintiffs can’t agree on a settlement amount, your case eventually goes to trial, during which plaintiffs and defendants present their evidence and argue their cases. You have your choice of trial type.
Each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Bench trial: The judge hears your evidence and decides the case.
Jury trial: Attorneys select a jury and present their evidence. A judge provides instructions, and the jury decides the outcome.
Administer your settlement documents. When your attorney settles or tries your case, the process isn’t complete until you execute the final paperwork, which involves the following:
The defendants usually prepare a release.
Your attorney reviews the release language, and (if acceptable) you sign it.
When your attorney returns your signed release, the defense attorney or the defendant’s insurance carrier sends a check in the agreed settlement amount or the court judgment.
When your law firm receives the check, it prepares a dismissal entry and files it with the court.
The attorney deducts his or her portion of the settlement and forwards the rest to you.
Contact The Levin Firm for Help With Your Bladder or Urological Cancer Case
Liability cases are usually complicated. Medical negligence cases are even more difficult to resolve. When you work with a medical negligence attorney, you increase your potential for recovering damages. A medical malpractice case involves procedures and situations that are unique to medical cases. In such cases, attorneys help their clients navigate legal challenges and work with adverse parties to resolve cases.
When you consult an attorney, you don’t have to make any critical decisions about your case until you’re ready. During the initial consultation, you will simply share information and learn about your legal options.
If a doctor or medical facility failed to diagnose your bladder or urological cancer, you shouldn’t confront the legal system on your own. The attorneys at The Levin Firm understand that medical negligence cases are usually complicated. You must present evidence to substantiate your condition and your healthcare provider’s negligence. Lawsuits must comply with Pennsylvania court and MCARE standards. You’ll have difficulty presenting a winning case without professional legal assistance.
“They were thorough in explaining the process step-by-step as well as providing me with every applicable option relating to my case. We managed to resolve with ease: minor paperwork, efficient time management, and clear communication. Overall, their services were outstanding and I would highly recommend them to anyone needing representation.”
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