Mishandled DNA tests can lead to failure to diagnose cancer
Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Sep 11, 2012 in Failure To Diagnose
Advancements in medical technology have made it easier to diagnose serious diseases like cancer and blood disorders. However, even the most advanced medical tool can fail if the health care professional using it mishandles it or misinterprets the results produced. This can result in a misdiagnosis that may have long-term and even fatal consequences.
Connecticut readers may know that a gene test exists that can detect whether or not a person carries a gene that has been shown to increase the risk for breast cancer. Though it has the potential to save lives, an article in Bloomberg details what can happen when a health care professional misinterprets medical data.
A California woman had the genetic test done in December 2006. She had breast cancer previously, and was prepared to undergo a double mastectomy if she tested positive for the gene. However, she alleges that her oncologist at the time told her she tested negative. It wasn't until July 2009 when a genetic counselor looked at the test results that the woman found out the oncologist had misdiagnosed her. The woman had just had surgery to remove another malignant breast tumor.
Gene testing for disease is a fairly new practice. Approximately 2,700 diseases can be identified through genetic testing including breast cancer. Unfortunately, most health care professionals do not have the training or knowledge needed to correctly interpret or explain the results of the tests. This can lead to a failure to diagnose diseases, delayed treatment, and even contribute to the spread of disease.
People who undergo genetic testing will generally need to be their own patient advocates to ensure they are getting the correct results. Those who have been misdiagnosed or harmed by doctors' negligence should take time to learn what their rights are under the law.
Source: Bloomberg.com, "Fumbled DNA Tests Mean Peril for Breast-Cancer Patients," Robert Langreth, Sept. 9, 2012