SCOTTSDALE, AZ, October 14, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- An oncologist who owns a cancer treatment center is accused of deliberately misdiagnosing patients with cancer and ordering chemotherapy treatments they did not need. The alleged scam resulted in an FBI investigation, the doctor's arrest and national headlines. Federal officials accuse the doctor of defrauding Medicare of $35 million over two years. After his arrest, they raided his offices and seized medical records to build a case against him.
The man's arrest gives national headlines to a problem that most people face with quiet devastation. Misdiagnosis of cancer
is a serious issue in the United States, and it may also be underestimated. Cases in which doctors are accused of deliberately misdiagnosing patients with cancer are rare, but medical malpractice cases in which doctors failed to diagnose cancer or delayed a cancer diagnosis are all too common.
Doctors Underestimate Cancer Misdiagnoses
In a recent study released by the National Coalition on Health Care and Best Doctors Inc., more than 60 percent of doctors surveyed believed that diagnostic errors
in oncology happen in 0 to 10 percent of cases. The survey included 400 doctors who work as pathologists, medical oncologists and surgical oncologists. They are ranked by an impartial review as among the best 5 percent in their specialties.
The doctors' credentials are impressive, but their estimates of errors are low. Cancer-related misdiagnoses occur between 15 and 18 percent of the time, the survey by Best Doctors said. It cited journals such as the American Journal of Medicine and BMJ Quality and Safety. According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the misdiagnosis rate could be up to 44 percent for some types of cancer.
Learning From Misdiagnosis
In an interview, the vice chairman of Best Doctors said the survey results were surprising. He said that the health care field does not conduct adequate evaluations of misdiagnosis to help doctors learn from these mistakes. After a patient's death or serious surgical error, physicians may meet to discuss the error and what could have prevented it, he said. That happens far less often with misdiagnosis, and in many cases, doctors may not even be aware of a misdiagnosis.
Physicians in the study were also asked about what would be most likely to improve the availability of data on misdiagnosis. Twenty-nine percent said that state and federal lawmakers should provide incentives for hospitals to take part in the gathering of confidential misdiagnosis data. Another 24.8 percent said that reporting and data-sharing should be tied to hospital accreditation, and 23 percent said the National Institutes of Health should have more resources to study misdiagnosis.
The survey makes one thing clear: Physicians, policymakers and patients need more awareness of the potential for cancer to be misdiagnosed, and we need to take steps to prevent misdiagnosis of cancer and the significant risks to patients' health.
The Effect On Patients
For patients, the effect of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can be devastating. Delayed or improper treatments can decrease a patient's likelihood of a successful treatment for cancer. If you or a loved one suspects that cancer has been misdiagnosed or that a doctor should have diagnosed it sooner, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can explain your options.
Knapp & Roberts provides experienced and caring representation for medical malpractice and misdiagnosis cases in Scottsdale, Phoenix and other areas of Arizona. For more information, call 480-991-7677 or visit www.krattorneys.com