The American Liver Foundation is promoting Liver Cancer Awareness Month in Nevada this October by educating the public on the functions of the liver in the body and risk factors for liver disease. There are approximately 30 million individuals in America who have some type of liver disease, including hepatitis A, B and C, but many are undiagnosed or improperly diagnosed. Three out of four people in the United States who have hepatitis do not know they are infected, and it is the most common cause of liver cancer.

Proper testing is critical to the discovery of liver cancer

Liver cancer deaths are on the rise in the United States. Although liver cancer is treatable, it is critical that it is identified early because failure to properly diagnose it can have fatal consequences. Unfortunately, early symptoms are typically mild, non-existent or they mimic other health conditions. They may start as abdominal pain, nausea or a lack of appetite, which are also associated with various viruses. There are many different types of tests that a doctor may use to identify and diagnose liver cancer, including the following:

  • Imaging tests
  • Laparoscopy or biopsy tests
  • Blood tests

Occasionally, mistakes are made by the laboratories that run these tests and interpret them, such as radiology or pathology. However, according to a study published by the American Medical Association, most diagnostic issues are directly attributable to doctor error. Imaging tests often fail to give conclusive results, and a doctor who does not follow up with other tests puts a patient at significant risk.

Doctors are liable for failure to diagnose liver cancer

Medical misdiagnosis may allow cancer to cause irreparable damage to the liver or spread to other parts of the body, resulting in a prolonged treatment and recovery process or even death. To hold a doctor liable for a diagnostic delay or failure that leads to further harm, the patient must be able to prove that the harm was directly related to the lack or delay of the diagnosis and that the doctor was negligent. This includes a failure to ask standard questions related to the symptoms or a failure to recognize symptoms. Proving a failure to diagnose can be difficult in some cases because the patient must show that a reasonable doctor would have been able to provide the proper diagnosis in a timely manner with the same information. Patients who believe they have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit should contact a personal injury attorney with experience in the Nevada legal system to ensure full compensation for damages, pain and suffering and medical expenses.