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Could overzealous prostate screenings lead to malpractice?

A common tenet in the pursuit of curing and preventing cancer is that you have to go to the doctor regularly. This message is regularly directed at men over the age of 30 and younger than 55, because this is the age group that is less likely to see a physician. With prostate cancer being one of the most prominent killers of men, prostate cancer screening is very common for men of a “certain age.” However, a new study suggests that not every man actually needs the screening.

A recent study published by the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care suggests that screenings using a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) may not be the best way to check for cancer. The study indicated that between 11.3 and 19.8 percent of men tested through PSA would receive a false-positive diagnosis. Essentially, the test results would indicate that cancer would be present, when it is actually not.

Researchers were concerned that 40 to 56 percent of those screened would be subject to over-diagnosis, which could lead to unnecessary invasive treatment.

With the perceived climate of people suing doctors for malpractice for frivolous reasons, it appears that physicians are taking a “better safe than sorry” approach to screening patients for cancer. Nevertheless, doctors are still charged with using reasonable care when diagnosing a patient. And when invasive treatment is recommended based on the possible, yet unrefined, notion that cancer could be present, it could be viewed as a failure to use such care.

If you have questions about whether an incomplete diagnosis can compensated through a medical malpractice claim, an experienced attorney can help. 

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