Too late to the cancer screening doctor is liable
Gynecologists who advise their patients late for mammography can be held liable
This was the verdict of the Higher Regional Court in Hamm after a patient was diagnosed with breast cancer too late. The doctor had failed to recommend mammography screening following a cancer screening two years ago. Cancer screening has been criticized for some time now. Often a lack of education by the doctors is criticized. Also the mammography screening is still controversial. Critics fear that the investigation in many
Women cause unnecessary fears of a tumor, although further studies show no signs of disease. However, it can lead to dramatic consequences if a doctor advises his patient not to a mammography and the cancer is discovered by it too late. The decision of the Higher Regional Court Hamm has now decided in favor of a woman who has breast cancer.
The patient, who had a precautionary check on breast cancer by her long-time gynecologist every year, and who attached great importance to the check-up, had filed a suit.
The 53-year-old was advised after a 2001 mammogram, only in 2010 to repeat such an investigation. In the meantime, the doctor had only performed a sonography (ultrasound) and a palpation examination. After re-mammography in 2010, the now 66-year-old woman discovered signs of breast cancer. The woman then had to undergo surgery. In addition, there was a radiation and chemotherapy to curb the disease. Then the patient complained of damages and compensation. She felt that her illness could have been detected earlier. A less stressful treatment would have been possible had the gynecologist advised her to go to regular mammography from the time of the examination.
20,000 euros in compensation
The judges agreed with the patient and awarded her a compensation in the amount of 20,000 euros. According to their opinion, the doctor should have recommended mammography as early as 2008, because at the time the examination was considered to be the only safe procedure that could have reduced the risk of a fatal disease course. The court closed in 2008, because for the years before it was not possible to reliably predict whether the tumor could have been detected earlier. By contrast, the ultrasound examination carried out by the defendant physician was not as safe as mammography. The study carried out is not suitable for reducing the mortality rate, as a clear assessment is difficult even for experts.
Gross treatment error
By always emphasizing the minimization of breast cancer risk and regularly undergoing screening, the court also found a gross treatment error. The doctor has prescribed a hormone preparation that can increase the risk of breast cancer.
This would not have happened to a simple and comparatively risk-free mammogram. It is also very likely that no metastases would have formed in a previous cancer diagnosis. A less burdensome operation might have been sufficient and chemotherapy could have been avoided, the judges replied. Above all, a more favorable prognosis for the woman would have resulted from earlier treatment. The judgment is final and the appeal was not approved by the Higher Regional Court. (Fr)
Picture: Ekaterina Benthin