Early Detection Of Colon Cancer – A Question of Malpractice?
By Attorney Bruce H. Stanger
Early detection of colon cancer saves lives. Today, unfortunately all too often, delays in detection are often the result of medical malpractice. The test of choice is often a colonoscopy.
With symptoms of rectal bleeding, at any age, even if your doctor says it is something else, ask: “Should I have a colonoscopy just to be sure?” Even with no symptoms, a periodic colonoscopy is often recommended at age 40, or even earlier, depending on personal and family history. Ask you doctor: “When should I have my first (next) colonoscopy?” Today, Medicare and other health care insurance companies pay for colorectal screening.
Malpractice occurs when a medical care provider, for example a doctor, fails to treat a patient according to generally accepted medical practices. Malpractice is simply the negligence of a medical care provider. If you are negligent in the operation of a car and if that causes damage to someone else, you would be liable for the result of your actions. Similarly, the law provides that a doctor is liable for his or her negligence in the treatment of a patient.
One of the places that the standards may be found is in articles written by other doctors and medical associations. Prepared by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and published in 1997 by the medical journal, Gastroenterology were the colorectal screening guidelines entitled, “Colorectal Cancer Screening: Clinical Guidelines and Rationale.” This work set forth in great detail recommendations as to who should have what test and when. These guidelines, which were endorsed by various medical associations including the American Cancer Society, American College of Gastroenterology, American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, among others, were based upon patient signs and symptoms with the goal of detecting colon cancer as early as possible. These guidelines have been periodically updated by the medical profession. It is just this type of information that all doctors in a position to diagnose colorectal cancer should be aware of.
Although originally published in a medical journal which may largely be read by a medical specialty, this information quickly propagates through the medical community and is available to all physicians. As recommendations are made or updated, physicians have a wide variety of means to update their knowledge; such as from guidelines published by the American Cancer Society, periodicals, and discussions with their peers. With this information, physicians should be able to answer your questions, or direct you to a specialist who can.
The medical malpractice claims we bring as attorneys cannot bring our clients back. It is heart breaking to watch someone die where a simple cure was available if only there had not been malpractice. Ask your family and friends if they have spoken with their doctor about a colonoscopy. Expect care based on medicine, as it should be practiced today. Expect your doctor to keep up on advances in medicine.