Is there any liability for a delayed notification of a cancer diagnosis?

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Is there any liability for a delayed notification of a cancer diagnosis?

While going through a separate set of litigation, I got all my hospital records released. It turns out that a skin lesion biopsy done 2 years ago came back positive for carcinoma but no one from that hospital ever informed me and I was unaware of the cancer until a year later when I was treated at a different hospital. What legal responsibilities did the dermatologist have to inform me about the diagnosis? They didn’t make a phone call, send a letter, or anything at all, just a vague suggestion to “not worry about it” at the time the biopsy was taken.

Asked on November 15, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The first issue is whether it was "bad practice," or malpractice, to have not warned or notified you of the test results. If the standard of acceptable medical care would have called for notifying you, then a failure to notify may be malpractice. The second issue is whether you were damaged or injured by this--lowered life expectancy; will incur more medical costs to treat it later rather than sooner; etc. Without damages, there is no point in suing, since the legal system only provides compensation for actual costs or injuries.

Since, as you can see, the specific facts are critical to determining your rights and recourse, if any, you should discuss the matter in detail with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.


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