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Delayed diagnoses of breast cancer can lead to litigation

Thankfully, mammograms have enabled doctors in Texas to detect breast cancer early enough to be able to treat it. The end result is that the fatality rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer has declined by 40% thanks to the onset of mammography.

Unfortunately, simply having a mammogram is not enough to prevent breast cancer. A radiologist, a specialized doctor, has to look over the results of the mammogram and interpret them. In other words, it is ultimately that doctor's responsibility to diagnose breast cancer and to do so in a timely fashion.

According to statistics, over 80% of medical malpractice cases alleged that the radiologist, or other medical professional, failed to diagnose breast cancer in a timely fashion. It seemed from the numbers that a one-year delay was what juries and lawyers alike thought was too long, with delays of over a year until diagnosis being twice as likely to result in a patient being awarded compensation.

Other features that these statistics underscored was that patients who filed medical malpractice claims related to a breast cancer diagnosis were typically 46 years old, younger than the median age of all patients who get diagnosed with breast cancer.

Moreover, while a little over half, 55%, of claims ended with a doctor paying his or her patient for medical malpractice, the amount of compensation paid tended to be large. On average, juries were awarding over $850,000 in compensation, while cases were settling for over $1.15 million.

In any event, patients who live in Houston or who travel here from other parts of Texas for medical care should remember that, when they submit to a mammogram, they have every right to expect their doctors to return a prompt and accurate reading of it. Not doing so can mean that a patient's breast cancer grows worse and may even reach the point where little can be done.

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