Medical Malpractice Study Finds 25% of Breast Cancer Biopsies Misdiagnosed


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Nobody wants to hear a cancer diagnosis, but hearing you're cancer-free when you're not can be even deadlier than receiving the correct diagnosis. Incorrect cancer diagnoses make up a large portion of the overall claims for medical malpractice in Charleston, and throughout the United States. According to Forbes Magazine, recent annual statistics have shown that there's a medical malpractice payout every 43 minutes or so, and the total payments reach over three billion dollars. Breast Cancer Biopsies Can't Be Relied Upon According to an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), even the experts can't agree when it comes to making a diagnosis using common biopsy techniques. Considering that 1.6 million women undergo the procedure in the United States every year, around 400,000 of them could be receiving an improper diagnosis. A study published in JAMA alongside the article explained that they had three expert breast pathologists independently examine 243 specimens to determine a diagnosis. The experts concurred approximately 75% of the time. The research team then forwarded the samples to 115 pathologists throughout the country who were selected at random and agreed to participate. On average, their concordance rate was around 75% as well. Certain Biopsy Results are Accurate Less Than 50% of the Time If that isn't concerning enough, pathologists disagreed even more on one specific biopsy finding. The test result with a poorest concordance rate is "atypia," which simply references that the cells appear to be abnormal. It can present itself in a number of ways, and a pathologist can't easily determine the extent of the cell damage, nor can he tell if it might have been repaired. He also has to make a judgement call as to whether it appears different enough to be considered abnormal. Even though damaged cells can turn into cancerous cells, they don't always do so. Therefore, it's important to refer a patient out for additional testing and monitoring if atypia is the final diagnosis. The problem is, pathologists only agreed on atypia results 48% of the time. Several Factors Reduce Accuracy Overall, the study indicated that variances were minor, though there were a few instances when pathologists were less likely concur with the majority diagnosis. First, the number of cases a pathologist sees weekly impacts his accuracy. Those who work in nonacademic settings or smaller practices tend to differ in diagnosis as well. On the patient-end, women over 50 years old, with dense tissue, tended to have more variation in diagnosis.

Charleston Medical Malpractice Attorney

When a doctor or pathologist fails to make the correct diagnosis, the results can be tragic. Where false-positives are concerned, patients are often subjected to harsh treatments to cure a problem they don't even have. When a patient who is ill receives a clean bill of health, she can lose the precious time needed to treat a disease before it becomes terminal. If you or a loved one has received an inaccurate diagnosis, you may be entitled to reparations to cover the costs of additional medical treatment, reimburse you for previous costs, and to compensate you for your pain and suffering. Please contact us online or speak with one of our attorneys by calling1(800)610-2546.

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