Pathology Malpractice – Failure to Diagnose
In diagnosing disease, physicians increasingly rely upon pathologists. Pathologists are required to complete medical school and earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Pathology is a specialty medicine, so doctors who want to become pathologists are required to complete a 3 to 4-year residency program in pathology that prepares doctors to diagnose a variety of diseases. After completing a residency program, doctors who want to become pathologists must complete a 1 2-year fellowship in pathology. Like other types of doctors, pathologists may make mistakes that cause harm to patients. If you believe you may have been the victim of pathology malpractice, you may be able to hold the pathologist accountable for your damages. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys can evaluate the facts of your situation and determine the viability of your claim. DeFrrancisco & Falgiatano also has additional offices throughout Upstate, New York.
Pathologists are doctors who study the tissue and fluids of the body to help diagnose disease. Pathologists provide fundamental information to other doctors as to whether or not a disease is present in a patient, what stage that disease is in, and where it is located in the body. When lab tests and results are mismanaged, misinterpreted, or miscommunicated by pathologists, then the patient’s doctors do not have the necessary tools to provide timely and correct diagnoses and begin treatment plans. Some of the most common malpractice cases in pathology involve the misdiagnosis of cancer.
Pathologists are not doctors who typically work closely with patients. Instead, they provide the lab results to many types of doctors. This does not mean that a pathologist cannot harm a patient. When a pathologist fails to assess test results accurately, it can result in a missed diagnosis. For example, if a doctor extracts cells due to a suspicion of cancer, but a pathologist incorrectly determines no cancerous cells are present, cancer will likely progress untreated. Conversely, a pathologist may advise a physician that the results show that a patient is suffering from cancer or another grave disease even though the patient is healthy, which may not only result in mental anguish but also in unnecessary treatment that may harm the patient’s health.
A specimen taken from a patient, generally by biopsy, will be submitted to a laboratory for microscopic examination by a pathologist, who is asked to offer an opinion on whether the disease may or may not be present. Once the pathologist completes their examination, they will create a pathology report. The pathology report contains the diagnosis and additional information about the specimen that is typically only visible when magnified exponentially under a microscope or tested in a lab. The doctor will then consult with the pathologist for their expert opinion/diagnosis. This is a critical step when determining the appropriate treatment plan. Treatment decisions are often made exclusively on the opinion of a pathologist. Pathology errors can constitute medical malpractice that leads to devastating patient injuries.
Pathology errors generally fall within three broad categories. One type is a processing error. Pathology labs host thousands of specimens of thousands of patients and those specimens will be handled by many different employees. It is well known that processing errors frequently occur, ranging from the intermingling of specimens from different patients to placing the wrong patient’s name on a pathology report that is sent to the treating physician. The other two broad categories involve errors by the pathologist in examining and analyzing a patient’s specimen. A pathologist can offer an opinion that disease is not present when in fact it is or that disease is present when in fact it is not.
Unfortunately, pathologists make mistakes with potentially catastrophic consequences. When pathologists misread lab results or other pathology errors occur, patients are often left to suffer crippling results. There are situations in which pathology malpractice can result in a patient's death. You may be able to sue for damages arising out of a wrongful death.
If you or someone you love experienced health issues as a result of pathologist negligence, it is important to understand the legal avenues that may be available to you. Perhaps you’re unsure if your pathologist made a mistake, but you believe a missed or delayed diagnosis caused harm to you or a family member. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to help. We represent patients and their families who have suffered harm due to medical malpractice in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in areas such as Utica, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Lyons, Elmira, Wampsville, Auburn, Herkimer, Oneida, Oswego, Ithaca, Watertown, and Lowville. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.