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Delay in accurate diagnosis can prove fatal

Patients in Washington, D.C., and across the nation have the right to expect prompt medical treatment, especially as, with certain diseases and illnesses, a few months can make all the difference. Take, for example, the case of a veteran in another state. By the time the man received an accurate diagnosis, his cancer had become so advanced that it was diagnosed as terminal.

In 2011, at age 43, the veteran began suffering from abdominal pain. For almost a year, he attempted to schedule a medical appointment with his local Veteran's Administration hospital. Every time he was able to schedule, the appointment date was set months in the future, and, in the meantime, the clinic would cancel the appointment, forcing him to try to reschedule.

When he was finally able to get in, it was to see not a physician but a nurse practitioner, who found that his prostate was uneven and enlarged. However, rather than referring the man to a urologist or ordering follow-up testing, she told him there was nothing he could or should do about it. After an entire year had gone by with no improvement in his symptoms, he returned to the VA Medical Center, where he finally saw a doctor and a biopsy showed incurable Stage 4 prostate cancer.

The lawsuit argued - and the judge agreed - that had the man been given proper attention early in his illness and received a diagnosis when he first started experiencing pain and symptoms, his disease would not have progressed to such an advanced, terminal stage. While the man was awarded damages totalling $2.5 million, he likely has less than five years to live, and says it was not about the money, but about ensuring that veterans - and, indeed, all patients - get the medical attention they need in a timely manner, as the difference of a few months can often prove lifesaving. Any residents of Washington, D.C., who have similarly suffered due to an avoidable delay in receiving an accurate diagnosis of their illnesses or injuries may benefit from the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney who has experience in cases involving diagnostic errors and delays.

Source: phoenixnewtimes.com, "Dying Army Vet With Prostate Cancer Awarded $2.5 Million In VA Malpractice Suit", Antonia Noori Farzan, March 6, 2017

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