Avoiding Cancer Treatment Malpractice
As medical malpractice lawyers, when it comes to cancer, we often see a delay in diagnosis or completely failure to diagnose the patient properly. But there is another kind of malpractice: the failure to make certain the cancer patient is receiving all of the care that he needs during treatment.
Cancer Treatment is Complicated
Many of us, probably most of us, have had family members and/or friends who suffered from cancer. If you have been the caretaker of a cancer patient, you know that cancer treatment has a lot of moving parts. It is key that the team(s) treating your loved one make certain that he receives everything he needs. For example, the patient will likely receive both chemotherapy and radiation, both of which have numerous side effects. In addition, underlying health problems cause problems or additional health problems can develop, and it is critical that the medical team(s) be aware of those problems. For example, some patients become dehydrated, and so it is important that the medical staff provide the proper fluids, if this occurs. Labs need to be checked and problems identified and treated, such as low magnesium, high blood sugar, and other issues that either pre-existed or become an issue during treatment, managed.
Some cancer centers work very well together, but others do not. In some cases, the radiation and the chemotherapy occur in the same building with connected teams. In other centers they do not, and the teams may be completely separate, even having computers with software that doesn’t talk to each other. Sometimes, communications issues develop, which can cause lapses in care for the patient. At times, this can result in serious medical complications.
An Advocate is Important
Many cancer centers and hospitals provide a social worker who is supposed to help if the patient and his family run into any problems during cancer treatment. But, the social worker often isn’t aware of problems until a family member calls to alert her. As a result, a family member or friend who can serve as a patient advocate is extremely important. The advocate can make certain that the different teams involved in the patient’s treatment are communicating, and can work to make sure the patient isn’t falling through the cracks due to communication issues.
Be Involved in your Loved One’s Care
If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from cancer, see if he needs an advocate to help him. Chemotherapy and radiation both cause fatigue and sometimes can cause confusion. It is extremely difficult for a patient to speak up for himself while dealing with the fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis as well as the confusion that comes from all of the medications and various treatments. Each patient needs someone to speak up for him to make certain he is getting the correct care that he needs as he seeks to beat this terrible disease.