Pancreatic cancer is a very difficult disease to diagnose. Many times, symptoms don’t present themselves until the advanced stages. Because of this, it is very difficult to determine whether malpractice was a factor in the delay of diagnosis. There are many factors that enter into the decision of malpractice.
The first issue to be discussed is what exactly constitutes malpractice. The definition of malpractice states that it is a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one rendering professional services which result in injury, loss, or damage as stated by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
All patients have a right to a reasonable standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or illness. It is the responsibility of the courts to decide if any cases of malpractice brought before them are warranted or not.
What Is Considered Malpractice?
In the case of pancreatic cancer, there are some definite factors that should have been addressed for the care to have followed a reasonable standard of care. Risk factors, symptoms, a more thorough exam and diagnostic tests are all part of the minimal care that every patient should receive.
It is extremely important that the physician takes an extensive medical history. If a patient suffers from some these risks factors, some additional testing may be warranted for pancreatic cancer.
What Are the Symptoms?
Even though the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are also the same as many other illnesses, these symptoms as well as risk factors may be enough reason to take some additional tests to rule out pancreatic cancer. Some of those symptoms included.
- Smoking is the most important risk factor. Smokers have twice as much of a chance of getting the disease as a non-smoker.
- Overweight or obese individuals are 20% more likely to get the disease.
- Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace such as a metal refinery can increase the incidence of the disease.
- Age becomes a factor- 71 is the average age of someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
- Men are 30% more likely to get sick than women.
- Family history is important- This form of cancer does run in the family.
- People with diabetes have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer also.
If risk factors and symptoms are present, a more thorough exam should be completed. An extensive exam of the abdominal region should be done looking for masses or fluid buildup in the region. There could also be an enlarged gallbladder or liver. Even though these may be symptoms of other diseases as well, pancreatic cancer cannot be ruled out without further testing. This type of cancer may also spread to the lymph nodes so they should be examined as well.
Lastly, there are some tests that can be performed to rule out pancreatic cancer. A CT scan is the best test to detect pancreatic cancer. Other tests can also be performed such as MRI, ultrasounds and a multitude of blood tests.
What should you do if you feel you have been a victim of malpractice?
As an informed patient, you have every right to ask your doctor for certain tests to be performed, especially if you have risk factors and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. If you have pancreatic cancer and feel your doctor didn’t perform the tests soon enough in your care, it is advisable for you to contact an attorney specializing in medical malpractice and discuss your options with them.
- Malpractice. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=definition+of+malpractice&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
- Pancreatic Risk Factors. Cancer.org. Retrieved from www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreaticcancer/detailedguide/pancreatic-risk-factors
- The Standard of Care: Legal History and Definitions: The Bad & Good News. (2011). West J Emerg Med 2011 Feb, 12(1) 109-112. Retrieved www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088386/
- Signs of jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Decreased appetite or abnormal weight loss
- Abdominal pain, especially in the upper area
- Depression not attributed to any other circumstances or with no previous history