Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that typically develops after exposure to asbestos, a fibrous material often used in insulation and fire-resistant materials. Because mesothelioma typically doesn’t appear until decades after the asbestos exposure and has no early symptoms, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose correctly.
A mesothelioma diagnosis usually begins with the patient’s visit to the doctor with a complaint of chronic chest pain. If the cause is mesothelioma, the pain is probably a result of pleural effusion, or a buildup of fluid inside the pleural space. However, there are a number of conditions that cause chest pain that may be considered as possible alternative diagnoses for mesothelioma, including the following:
- Lung cancer
- Lung adenocarcinoma
- Respiratory infection
- Heart failure
- Viral pneumonia
Sometimes, mesothelioma can be improperly diagnosed as one of these conditions or vice versa.
Mesothelioma misdiagnosis is common, and is currently an active area of litigation. If a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose occurs, this can significantly worsen the patient’s prognosis. In some cases, an error may qualify as medical malpractice, which means that the attending physician failed to competently perform his or her medical duties. In order to prove medical malpractice, a patient must be able to demonstrate a few basic facts: a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor acted negligently by misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose, the negligence caused physical harm, and the physical harm led to specific damages.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mesothelioma misdiagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation in the form of a medical malpractice lawsuit. In these cases, acting quickly is critical. Speak with an experienced Philadelphia mesothelioma attorney right away.