In a recent installment of its ongoing “Living Cancer” series, NPR and WNYC public radio focused on the daunting medical expenses faced by cancer patients and their families in the U.S.
“Many people told us the financial cost of cancer treatment was something they preferred not to think about — at first,” reporter Kathryn Tam writes. “But paying for cancer care shaped the way they make daily decisions, and it also took an emotional toll.”
For instance, a Nebraska woman suffering from multiple myeloma told Tam that, despite staying within her health care insurer’s network, she had piled up $80,000 in out-of-pocket medical costs over a six-year period.
Unfortunately, the costs of treating cancer can be even greater when a patient’s cancer has reached an advanced stage due to a delayed or missed diagnosis. In cases in which a patient has been diagnosed with cancer that does not exist – called a “false positive” – the costs are, of course, completely unnecessary.
Study: U.S. Cancer Treatment Costs Could Hit $207 Billion by 2020
In 2011, researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a study that analyzed medical expenditures for cancer treatment in the U.S.
According to the researchers, the total costs in 2010 were projected to be $124.6 billion, with the most costly types of cancer including:
The study went on to project the total costs of treatment in the year 2020 if the costs of treatment remained stable or if they rose by 2 percent or by 5 percent. According to the researchers, by 2020, there will be an estimated 18.1 million cancer survivors living in the U.S. They arrived at the following figures:
As the researchers noted, the medical costs of cancer would likely increase due to advancements in technology and treatments. Based on recent trends, they projected at least a 2 percent cost raise.
Additionally, they pointed out that not all costs were included in their calculations, including the loss of patients’ productivity due to their condition.
Seeking Damages in a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
When a doctor wrongly diagnoses a patient with cancer or fails to make a timely diagnosis of the disease, it can lead to unnecessary costs.
A primary goal of a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a cancer misdiagnosis is to recover these past and future medical costs, including the costs of:
- Radiation treatment
- Home care
- Assistive devices
- Treatment-related transportation.
However, a legal claim would go beyond the costs mentioned in the recent NPR/WNYC report or in the 2011 NCI study. A claim would also typically seek damages covering:
- Lost past and future income
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental distress
- Loss of consortium.
The reality is that a wrongful diagnosis of cancer or delayed diagnosis of the disease can be highly costly to patients and their families in many different ways. Those who are the victims of medical malpractice should not have to bear these costs. Negligent medical professionals should be held accountable for them.
To learn more about the damages that may be sought in a cancer misdiagnosis claim, please feel free to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney from Powers & Santola, LLP. We would be glad to provide a free and confidential consultation about your case.