Less than one percent people diagnosed with colon cancer are younger than thirty-five. But, because of the fact that colon cancer can be fatal doctors usually agree that the presence of rectal bleeding, even in a patient under thirty-five, has to be followed by a colonoscopy to determine whether the bleeding is a result of cancer.. Simply supposing that the blood is caused by hemorrhoids falls below the standard of care.
Consider what took place in a documented case involving a woman who told her family doctor that she had blood in her stool and felt pain as she had bowel movements. She was just twenty four. The doctor, just\without even doing an examination, told her to take a laxative after deciding that she had diarrhea and other bowel issues. The woman returned four months later with complaints of constipation, pain and problems sitting. This time the physician finally examined her yet told her she had hemorrhoids. His treatment: an enema. She went back to the doctor 2 more times and each time was reassured that her symptoms were due to hemorrhoids and she had nothing to worry about.
The woman had to be hurried to an emergency room because of severe pain seven months after her first visit to her primary care physician. They scheduled a colonoscopy and was found to have advanced colorectal cancer. The cancer was so prevalent by the time she had surgery that not only did the surgeon have to remove part of her colon but in addition had to remove her uterus and part of her lower intestines. The surgery was later followed by chemotherapy. The woman eventually had a recurrence and died of the disease less than 3 years after. Her husband and minor daughter survived her.
The law firm that represented the family documented that the matter went to trail and the jury awarded the family a sum of $ 2.5 million. The award included the maximum of $ 350,000 permitted for pain and suffering by the law of the State where the doctor practices. The rest of the amount was for future lost wages. This lawsuit illustrates what is perhaps the most prevalent medical error regarding the delayed diagnosis of colon cancer.
Far too often physicians do not order a colonoscopy or refer the patient to a gastroenterologist when a individual reports rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. Rather, these physicians merely assume that the symptom is due to hemorrhoids. This is particularly common when the person is under fifty years old.
When a matter like the one described above happens and the patient dies due to the fact the cancer progressed to where it was no longer curable due to the delay in diagnosis the surviving family may be able to bring a lawsuit against the physician responsible for the delay.