boat1What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?

Pancreatic cancer is a very difficult disease to diagnose. Many times, symptoms do not present themselves until the advanced stages. Because of this, it is very difficult to determine whether medical malpractice was a factor in the delay of diagnosis. There are many factors that enter into the decision of medical malpractice. All patients have a right to reasonable standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or illness.

In the case of pancreatic cancer, there are some definite factors that should have been addressed for the care to have followed a reasonable standard of care. Risk factors, symptoms, a more thorough exam and diagnostic tests are all part of the minimal care that every patient should receive.

It is extremely important that the physician takes an extensive medical history. If a patient suffers from some these risks factors, some additional testing may be warranted for pancreatic cancer.

During litigation, plaintiff will argue that a delay in diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer results in a premature and preventable death while the defense will contend that any delay would have no effect on the outcome because the prognosis for pancreatic cancer, regardless of when it is diagnosed, is very poor.

What Are The Symptoms?

Even though the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are also the same as many other illnesses, these symptoms as well as risk factors may be enough reason to take some additional tests to rule out pancreatic cancer. Some of those symptoms included.

    • Smoking is the most important risk factor. Smokers have twice as much of a chance to contract the disease as a non-smoker.
    • Overweight or obese individuals are 20% more likely to get the disease.
    • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace such as a metal refinery can increase the incidence of the disease.
    • Age becomes a factor – 71 is the average age of someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
    • Men are 30% more likely to present than women.
    • Family history is imperative as this form of cancer does run in the family.
    • People with diabetes have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer.

If risk factors and symptoms are present, a more thorough exam should be completed. An extensive exam of the abdominal region should be done looking for masses or fluid buildup in the region. There could also be an enlarged gallbladder or liver. Even though these may be symptoms of other diseases as well, pancreatic cancer cannot be ruled out without further testing. This type of cancer may also spread to the lymph nodes so they should be examined as well.

Most importantly, there are newly developed blood tests that can lead to early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer. Other critical diagnostics include CT scan which is considered the gold standard to detect pancreatic cancer. Other diagnostics include MRI and ultrasound.


Kathleen A. Mary, RNC, Legal Nurse Consultant Certified is a time-honored medical expert who assists plaintiff and defense attorneys in navigating meritorious complexities for medical-legal claims. For over 25 years, 100% of Kathleen’s cases (hundreds) have been positively settled without trial. Please contact Kathleen for your next medical-legal case.  


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