Serious Injury from Cancer Radiation Treatment:
Not every radiation injury from radiation treatment for cancer is the result of malpractice. However, there has been a recent trend to deliver radiation with very sophisticated machines that are supposed to deliver very intense radiation to a precise, small target (the tumor) in the body. Sometimes the complex machines are not calibrated correctly with horrible results that do constitute medical malpractice.
Failure to Timely Diagnose Cancer:
My first step in this sort of claim is to go on the internet and see what the 5-year survival rate of the cancer is. If the five-year survival rate is very low I know the defense is going to be that the patient had a horrible diagnosis no matter what. If the five-year survival rate is fairly favorable as cancers go, then there are questions calling for an expert medical opinion as to how much chance of surviving the patient has lost because of the delay, and whether the delay was due to medical malpractice. If the medical records are available a non-doctor with some medical education can get rough answers off the internet and from peer-reviewed medical journals either in medical libraries or on the internet by paying for access to each article. Usually, there is a free summary of the article on the internet so the attorney can get a rough idea of whether the case is probably worth putting some serious money into to get an expert medical opinion.
Several standards of care in medical practice are simple to set out. If there is a lump in the breast it should be biopsied. Failure to conduct or recommend a biopsy of a breast lump is a violation of the standard of care. This can lead to a successful malpractice case for failure to timely diagnose breast cancer. Blood in the urine is suspicious of bladder cancer. Failure to examine the bladder after a finding of blood in the urine with an endoscope (or to recommend that it be done) is a violation of the standard of care and can lead to malpractice for failure to diagnose bladder cancer. Failure to follow up a laboratory finding of occult (hidden) blood in feces is a violation of the standard of care and it can lead a malpractice claim for delayed diagnose of the colon or rectal cancer.
It sometimes happens that biopsy is read as benign when it is in fact cancer. This would seem to be malpractice but in fact, for some biopsies, the borderline between what is cancer and what is not cancer is not so clear. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology is one of the more respected expert labs on examining biopsies for cancer.
Very Bad Reactions to Drugs:
Occasionally a prescription drug causes the entire body to react violently requiring an extensive and painful hospitalization if the patient can be saved. Whether there is a case for medical malpractice will depend on what the prescribing doctor knows or should have known about the drug, the other drugs the patient was taking, and the patient’s condition and history of allergies.
Failure to Timely Order a C-Section to Avoid Fetal Distress and Brain Damage to the Child:
These are not easy cases to evaluate but potentially huge cases. If a child is born with brain damage it is worthwhile to look into whether there was a problem with the delivery. There may not have been, but it is worthwhile checking it out.