Doctors’ obligations to detect or rule out cancer

A Greenville patient visits a doctor counting on a well-educated, highly-skilled medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. A physician who fails in his or her duties to provide quality care may be ordered by a court to compensate a patient for harm. The plaintiff must show something a doctor did or didn’t do contributed to or resulted in an injury or other loss.

So, what are doctors supposed to do to find out if a patient has cancer? A diagnosis typically begins with a physical exam and an evaluation of a patient’s symptoms and medical history. Numerous tests may be conducted during or after a doctor’s visit.

A urinalysis or blood test can show abnormalities which may or may not support a cancer diagnosis. Imaging tests are ordered like computerized tomography and positron emission tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging tests – known, respectively, as CT and PET scans and MRI tests – X-rays and sonograms. Imaging procedures are non-invasive ways doctors can look inside patients’ bodies.

Diagnostic procedures for cancer also include biopsies, extractions of cells or tissue samples for closer examination in a pathology lab. Samples may be taken using a needle or a tube-like devices called endoscopes. Surgical procedures involve partial or complete tumor removal.

Patient treatment depends upon the doctor’s findings and results of combined tests and procedures. It’s important to remember many lumps and tumors are noncancerous. Finding out what a patient doesn’t have is just as critical to a diagnosis as determining the medical condition a patient has.

The Melvin Law Firm can assess a claim for a failure to diagnose cancer, which isn’t always but can be an indication of medical malpractice. A North Carolina civil court would determine whether a doctor’s treatment measured up to the care a colleague under similar circumstances would give. Below-standard efforts point to negligence and a possible damage award.

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