Loss of Chance Doctrine and a Cancer Diagnosis

As patients, we depend on our doctors and medical professionals to accurately assess our health and identify potential issues. Unfortunately, there can be situations when a medical professional fails to diagnose or properly treat a serious illness. When the condition is cancer, delaying diagnosis and treatment can have dire consequences for the patient’s future health. In New York, patients who have been harmed by a delayed or missed cancer diagnosis may be able to recover damages under the “loss of chance” doctrine. Here is more on the loss of chance doctrine and a cancer diagnosis.


Medical Malpractice and Delayed and Missed Diagnoses


Generally, a medical malpractice plaintiff must be able to establish that their treating professional’s negligence caused them to suffer a specific injury. However, when a patient has a life-threatening condition such as cancer, a missed or delayed diagnosis could diminish their likelihood of survival or having an improved outcome. In this circumstance, the provider’s negligence did not cause the health condition but may have deprived their patient of life-saving or extending care.

Under these conditions, a cancer patient may have suffered grievous and irreparable harm. Therefore, when a provider misses or misdiagnoses this type of severe health condition, a victim may have grounds to file suit on the basis that the negligence diminished their chance of recovery.


What is the Loss of Chance Doctrine?


An accurate and prompt cancer diagnosis can result in a patient having additional weeks, months, or years of life.

When a patient has cancer, their chances of survival often depend on:

  • The form of the disease
  • If the disease has spread to certain regions of the body,
  • The stage their cancer is in when they are diagnosed, and
  • The timing of treatment and medical intervention

A missed or delayed cancer diagnosis can greatly reduce a patient’s chances of survival. In New York, when a medical provider commits this type of malpractice, the patient or their loved ones may be able to pursue damages through the loss of chance doctrine.

Under this theory of recovery, the injured party does not have to prove that their provider caused or made their condition worse. Instead, someone harmed by a delayed or missed cancer diagnosis would establish a diminished chance of survival or recovery due to their provider’s negligence.


Loss of Chance Doctrine Delay Period


Loss of chance doctrine cases don’t have a specified delay period. Therefore, even a brief wait may be actionable when a cancer diagnosis is missed or delayed.

In New York, lost chance doctrine cases involving cancer, diagnostic, and treatment delays of just a few weeks could result in a medical professional being held liable for a patient’s diminished loss of chance of recovery. Additionally, a plaintiff may have a cause of action if their cancer progressed from one stage to the other during the delayed diagnosis period. They may also be able to sue on the basis that they required more invasive treatment because they were not timely diagnosed.


Expert Opinions and the Lost Chance Doctrine


In lost chance doctrine cases involving cancer, plaintiffs ordinarily require expert-supported evidence to prove their damages. Often this evidence will involve a qualified medical expert establishing facts about the patient’s health, the stage of their illness, and survival rate information.

If you or a loved one has suffered a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation through the loss of chance doctrine. However, these cases are complicated and require specific evidence. Therefore, you will want to work with an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney who can assist you with assessing and presenting your loss of chance case.


At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we believe that every person with cancer deserves a full opportunity for early detection, early treatment, and complete cure.


When someone is denied the opportunity for a complete cure, we fight zealously to protect and advance their legal rights. We fight for expedited discovery schedules and expedited trials on behalf of cancer survivors who were the victims of delayed diagnosis. We have successfully fought on behalf of many clients in cases involving a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, colon cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, and many other cancers.


If you or a loved one has been injured due to a delayed diagnosis of cancer and you want the facts of that medical care investigated, you should contact the Med Law team at 1-888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Se Habla Espaňol. Home and hospital visits are available.