Prompt diagnosis of cancer, such as urinary cancer, is critical to optimizing the outcome. As cancer grows, the likelihood of spread, or metastasis, increases. Once cancer spreads from an early treatable stage to an advanced stage, the likelihood of cure diminishes. Depending on the type of cancer, an advanced stage may markedly reduce the chance for cure. Of course, every patient would like to be diagnosed at the earliest stage possible.
In an effort to improve the diagnosis of bladder and kidney cancer, the American College of Physicians (ACP) issued new guidelines for evaluating patients who are found to have blood in their urine. Blood in the urine, called hematuria, can be an early sign of urinary cancer. The ACP recommendations include the following:
- Patients with microscopic hematuria found on a screening urine test should be asked whether they have experienced visible blood in their urine.
- In patients having no symptoms, a positive test result from a routine dipstick test should be followed with a more detailed microscopic urinalysis to confirm the presence of significant red blood cells in the urine.
- Patients having visible blood in their urine should be referred to an urologist for a thorough evaluation.
- Urologists should evaluate patients experiencing hematuria with cystoscopy and appropriate imaging.
- Hematuria should be evaluated even if patients are taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications, which increase the risk of benign bleeding.
Under Ohio law, a primary care doctor or urologist can be held liable for injury or wrongful death when a diagnosis of urinary cancer is unnecessarily delayed. In such a case, your Ohio medical malpractice attorney will not only have to prove that the doctor was negligent, such as by failing to follow the above guidelines, but also that the negligence resulted in a delay that reduced the chance of cure. A delayed diagnosis may occur for various reasons. For example, I successfully tried a case involving a urologist’s failure to perform a thorough workup in a younger male patient who presented with complaints of visible blood in his urine. The resulting delay in diagnosis of his kidney cancer allowed the cancer to spread and ultimately claim the patient’s life.
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