Issues and Impacts when Biopsy Errors Occur
Biopsy Malpractice Lawyers in New Jersey for Failure to Perform, Delayed & Misread Biopsies
When an unusual growth, feelings of illness, or unexplained symptoms occur, you may head to your doctor to investigate the cause. Signs ranging from an upset stomach to frequent urination or a swollen abdomen can indicate any number of conditions, ranging from everyday ailments to deadly ones like cancer. Like a detective, a doctor must narrow the number of possible conditions to the most probable cause of the symptoms by gathering family and medical history from the patient, performing a physical exam, and conducting a general probing about the symptoms to find clues that may help diagnose the source of the illness. Eventually, a physician may settle on a few possibilities. To confirm a diagnosis, a myriad of different tests may be necessary, including a biopsy. When a condition involves the cells or tissue of the human body, a doctor may order a biopsy, which is a sample of tissue, tumors, organs, skin, or cells.
Biopsy: A Critical Tool for Diagnosis
While cancer is the reason for most biopsies, not all biopsies are taken for cancer. Other conditions may warrant a biopsy. The type of biopsy correlates with the particular symptoms and affected area, as well as the possible conditions being diagnosed. Once the biopsy is taken by the doctor, the sample is sent to a lab for analysis. Lab technicians or pathologists may run tests to analyze the sample for disease. These tests are crucial in the diagnostic process and can often reveal a serious condition that must be detected and treated early on to ensure the patient’s survival. For instance, only a biopsy can reveal with any precision the type and stage of cancer, meaning whether it has spread to other places in the body other than the area biopsied. For this reason, an unnecessary delay or failure to order a biopsy can cause devastating results. Misinterpreted biopsy results are equally dangerous, often leading to improper or insufficient treatment that ultimately damage the patient’s health.
Biopsies to Diagnose Cancer
Most prominently, doctors diagnosing cancer take biopsies of cells or tissues to identify tumors that may be or become cancerous. If your doctor suspects you might have cancer, they will take a biopsy of the suspected area of concern, along with a blood test to look for cancer markers. However, to definitively diagnose a mass found in a scan as the source of the individual’s health concern, the doctor must take a biopsy. This common form of testing is often performed in the realm of cancer diagnosis to truly know that the mass, skin growth, or organ inflammation is cancer or merely a benign cyst, for example. Similarly, if a patient has an abnormal pap smear, a gynecologist might perform a colposcopy to locate abnormal tissue and biopsy it. This can be a critical tool for diagnosing and preventing cervical cancer and others conditions affecting the cervix and uterus.
Biopsies of Your Bone Marrow
There are several types of biopsies that target specific areas of the body. A needle into the hipbone draws out a sample of the bone marrow. Blood cells originate in the bone marrow, so doctors look for conditions arising from blood disorders with bone marrow biopsies. So, a bone marrow sample may be taken to check on conditions affecting the blood, such as depleted iron leading to anemia, blood cancers such as leukemia, or other types of cancers. Doctors can likewise read a bone marrow sample to find infection or cancer that migrated from other areas of the body into the bones.
What does Endoscopic Biopsy Detect?
To examine organ tissue, your doctor may conduct an endoscopic biopsy. An endoscope contains a thin tube and a camera to view the inside of the body. The instruments in the scope are used to remove tissue after the scope and tools are inserted into the body through a small surgical cut or portal into the person’s body, such as the nose, rectum, or mouth. A doctor typically performs an endoscopy at the hospital or another medical facility since anesthesia is necessary to conduct the operation.
Other Types of Biopsies used to Test and Diagnose
Needle biopsies may also be used to gain access to locations inside of the skin or to the organs. Needles can be used alone or with imaging scans to locate organs or extract cells. Other biopsies include skin or punch biopsies, where a physician scrapes or slices off skin to test for cancer or other conditions. Surgery is another option, during which a person is opened to obtain a tissue sample or through laparoscopic surgery, which involves a scope similar to an endoscope. Lastly, breast lumps may be examined by incisional or excisional biopsies, which occur via an opening in the breast to extract the entire lump or a portion of it for examination.
Biopsy Errors and the Costs of Delays
While a biopsy is a practical and necessary tool to confirm disease diagnosis, errors involving these tests have the potential to cause equal, if not more, harm. Any source of delayed biopsy can be highly detrimental, whether it involves neglect to order the biopsy in the first place or a doctor’s failure to timely review the results of such testing. Some diseases require quick response and treatment times, and many cancers are treatable or more successfully treated when the cancer is caught early. Likewise, a mistaken biopsy result reading can lead to the wrong treatment, delayed treatment, or detrimental treatment for conditions that the patient does not actually have.
A biopsy procedure can also be the source of bleeding and infection, among other complications. The type of biopsy generally indicates the degree of risk, with surgery and incisions being the highest risk for infection, and needle biopsies the least. A sloppy biopsy could also yield ineffective results if cross contamination occurs, where unclean hands or instruments contaminate one sample from another sample taken previously. This may lead to mistaken biopsy results. Further, a false negative cancer result can be devastating if someone does have cancer. A false negative biopsy result could delay treatment that may be more expensive and extensive when the cancer has progressed and spread due to the delay. Such a mistake can cost a patient their life. Similarly, a false positive can wreak havoc on anyone’s body when they undergo unnecessary treatment for a condition which they are not, indeed, suffering from.
When a healthcare professional negligently fails to order a biopsy, poorly performs a biopsy, or mistakenly interprets biopsy results, the patient may suffer lifelong damages, from ongoing medical treatments and therapies, to loss of limb or health. In all of these instances, diagnosis and treatment delays or misdiagnoses involving biopsy errors can cause unnecessary pain and suffering to the affected person and their loved ones. Some biopsy errors even result in death.
Speak with NJ Biopsy Error Attorneys: Know Your Rights and Options
If you or someone you love was injured by biopsy errors or negligence in New Jersey, a seasoned medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you redress the wrongs that damaged your physical, emotional, and financial health. Whether it be a doctor, nurse, lab technician, pathologist, or hospital, or a combination thereof, a successful lawsuit may force them to compensate you for your losses. Obtaining maximum damages may be achieved through negotiations that compel the defendants to agree to settle your case, or by litigating the case in court, gathering and presenting evidence to establish that your injuries were caused by the negligence of your healthcare providers.
At Fronzuto Law Group, we consistently demonstrate our superior knowledge and skill handling medical malpractice claims by achieving successful resolutions for our clients. If you would like to speak with a lawyer experienced with biopsy malpractice lawsuits regarding your case and how we can help you pursue compensation, contact 973-435-4551 today.