Recently “The Home Edit” star Clea Shearer bravely announced she has aggressive breast cancer, which is a shock for anyone, even more so because she was younger than 40. Shearer said she had asked repeatedly for an appointment with her OBGYN after finding a lump but could not get in, so she refused to let her concerns wait and asked her primary care doctor to order the mammogram that led to her diagnosis. Her Stage 2 diagnosis of course, if delayed any further could’ve been even more dangerous. Shearer was fortunate to have self-detected her lump and her fierce self-advocacy may have saved her life. She had a double mastectomy in April of 2022 and her treatment continues.
Shearer’s experience highlights an important issue for the R&B legal team that advocates for clients whose cancer has not been diagnosed in a timely manner. According to the National Academy of Medicine: “Most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences.” Furthermore, it is believed that diagnostic errors could occur at rates as high as 10%- 15% for every diagnoses made. Cancer can be particularly high on this scale with lung cancer being misdiagnosed 22.5% of the time and breast cancer at 8.9% of the time.
There are numerous reasons that a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can happen, including specialists and staff not using their equipment properly - or not using it at all.
This situation was part of a tragic late diagnosis for one of our clients, a 37-year-old mother who had lumps in her left breast and armpit and a family history of breast cancer. The health system failed to diagnose it for two years, missing valuable opportunities to do a needle biopsy - the gold standard in diagnosis of breast cancer - leading to her death, leaving two young children behind.
Another reason for late or missed diagnoses can be that doctors do not get enough time with their patients. The current U.S. health system often puts pressure on doctors to see more patients because of the financial incentives. This over-scheduling and physician fatigue can have deadly consequences.
A cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis compounds and complicates what is already a major life altering event. One valuable way to reduce the risk of a delayed diagnosis is, like Clea Shearer, to be your own biggest advocate. Trust your instincts if you feel something needs attention, and insist your health be taken seriously even when others may not.
If you or someone you know had a cancer diagnosis delayed or had cancer misdiagnosed, Romanucci & Blandin offers initial consultations that are free and confidential. For more information on cancer misdiagnosis cases, click here.
 Balogh, E., et al. (2013). Improving diagnosis in health care, The National Academies Press, https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/21794/improving-diagnosis-in-health-care
 Graber ML, (2013) The incidence of diagnostic error in medicine, BMJ Quality & Safety 2013. https://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/22/Suppl_2/ii21
 Newman-Toker, D., et al. (2021). Rate of diagnostic errors and serious misdiagnosis-related harms for major vascular events, infections, and cancers: toward a national incidence estimate using the “Big Three”. Diagnosis, 8(1), 67-84. https://doi.org/10.1515/dx-2019-0104
- Diagnosing Cancer: Patients Must Trust Their Instincts and Advocate For Themselves
- Post-Pandemic Motor Vehicle Crashes and Deaths Rising – What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
- Beyond the Bio: R&B Partner Michael E. Holden
- Breakthrough Legislation Gives Choice to Victims of Workplace Sexual Abuse and Harassment
- Biometric Privacy and Workers’ Rights
- BIPA and Enhanced Protections for Illinois Workers
- Beyond the Bio: R&B Partner Bhavani Raveendran
- Trial Lawyer View with Antonio Romanucci
- Loyola University Law School podcast with Antonio Romanucci: The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with Tony Romanucci
- Auto Insurance Premium Relief in the COVID-19 Era: Is your insurance company really looking out for you?
- May 2022
- March 2022
- February 2022
- January 2022
- November 2021
- October 2021
- September 2021
- July 2021
- May 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- January 2021
- December 2020
- October 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- June 2019
- November 2018
- May 2018
- March 2018
- October 2015