Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there will be 228,190 new cases diagnosed and 159,480 deaths from this disease in 2013. A key preventative strategy has been to screen patients who are at increased risk, such as smokers. Until recently, screening had been done by a routine chest x-ray. However, new recommendations adopted by the ACS suggest that the use of a lung CT scan is more effective for screening.
According to the ACS, “
A study published this year in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that screening using a CT scan is more effective and may reduce lung cancer mortality by 20%. The study was so important that the recommendation to use CT imaging was immediately adopted as part of ACS screening guidelines.
Medical malpractice claims may arise in Ohio out of mistakes made in screening smokers. Previously, these cases were limited to the following situations: (a) failure to screen patients who meet screening criteria; (b) lost or mis-read screening films; and (c) failure to report abnormal findings picked up serendipitously on other imaging studies. Now, an additional basis for a lawsuit may arise if screening is done using a chest radiograph rather than a chest CT scan.
To prove medical negligence in such cases, you must show that the negligent care resulted in a delay in diagnosis that permitted the cancer to progress from an early, treatable stage (usually proven by the fact that the missed cancer was small, that the patient had no symptoms and there was no indication of advanced disease) to an advanced, incurable stage (proved by staging done at the time of diagnosis).