Some people are at risk of having or getting certain forms of cancer. With colon cancer, as an illustration, people with certain conditions , with particular symptoms , or with a family history are at risk. If a person both has a family history and also has complaints of symptoms such as blood in the stool, physicians usually acknowledge that a colonoscopy is needed so as to check if the individual has colon cancer or rule it out. In addition to testing patients who are at a greater risk level, physicians also typically suggest that asymptomatic individuals who are 50 or older go through routine screening in order to spot any cancer that may be developing in the colon before it reaches an advanced stage.
Yet in order to be reliable a colonoscopy needs to be complete. It must cover the whole length of the colon. Among the reasons that a doctor might not finish the colonoscopy is poor prior preparation resulting in inadequate visualization or the existence of an obstruction which makes it impossible to pass the scope beyond the location of the obstruction. When situations like these occur the physician ought to inform the patient and suggest that the patient either undergo an alternative procedure or a repeat colonoscopy. A failure to do so may result in an undetected cancer which can grow and progress to an advanced stage prior to being detected.
One lawsuit that was documented concerned a woman who died of colon cancer in her mid forties due to the fact that her cancer was not discovered until it had already metastasized even though her physicians for years had information that she was at high risk. Look at her medical history. She had a family history of colon cancer. During the length of six years, doctors conducted three colonospies on this patient. On many occasions she continued to tell her doctors that she was experiencing pain in the abdomen and that she saw blood in her stool. At a minimum, on one occasion the woman’s blood work also showed that she was anemic. All 3 are possible symptoms of colon cancer.
The notes from 2 of the colonoscopies revealed that there was incomplete visualization of the ascending colon and cecum as the scope could not be passed beyond the transverse colon. Yet, the physician who conducted the three colonoscopies and followed the woman during this time kept indicating to the woman that her symptoms were caused by hemorrhoids.
The woman was finally diagnosed with colon cancer when her tumor was detected during exploratory surgery as a way to figure out the cause of her problems. A large percentage of her intestines was taken out because of the cancer. Chemotherapy followed but the woman eventually passed away from the cancer. As a result of the physician’s failure to follow up on her symptoms in light of two incomplete colonoscopies the womans surviving family pursued a claim. The law firm handled the case was able to publisize that they were able to achieve a recovery for the family in the amount of $875,000
Physicians use diagnostic tests to discover or exclude specific diseases including specific kinds of cancers. For example, the colonoscopy is a procedure employed to find or rule out colon cancer. But the test is only as good as the accuracy with which the test was carried out. A colonoscopy employs a scope to visualize the interior of the colon so as to determine whether there are polyps or tumors in the colon
If the total colon is not visualized, as in the claim above, a physician should not count on it to exclude cancer. Doing so makes about as much sense as only listening to one of your lungs, examining only one of your eyes, or ordering only part of a complete blood count. When the patient does have cancer this may result in a delay in diagnosis that allows the cancer time to grow and progress to an incurable stage. Under such circumstances the doctor who relied on such an incomplete procedure might be liable.