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Bill aims to prevent delayed lung cancer diagnosis

When patients have diagnostic tests completed at the direction of their physician, they expect any important findings to be reported to them, and that either further diagnostic tests will be performed or a course of treatment recommended. Unfortunately, this was not the case for one New Jersey woman. Her doctor may have failed to diagnose a serious medical condition.

Two years prior to being diagnosed with lung cancer, the woman had seen a doctor who requested a chest X-ray be performed. Abnormalities were seen on the X-ray, but no one informed the woman of the finding and no follow-up was done. Her doctor failed to pursue evaluating the abnormality.

Abnormalities were subsequently seen in another chest X-ray performed on the woman two years after the first X-ray. The abnormalities were determined to be late-stage cancer. The woman succumbed to cancer shortly thereafter.

As a result of this incident, New Jersey's State Assembly has passed a bill known as "Claudia's Law." This new legislation requires patients be notified anytime an abnormality is found in a chest X-ray. The bill will now be proposed to the New Jersey Senate.

While this bill, if passed, will not directly affect New York residents, it does highlight problems in an area of medical practice that New York residents may also have experienced. Many patients who have had abnormalities overlooked in previous chest X-rays may have had a better chance at recovering from cancer had they been informed of the abnormality and further evaluation had been performed.

Patients who have suffered due to the failure of a medical practitioner to diagnose a condition such as cancer may benefit from consulting with a legal professional who can review their case and help them understand which courses of action are available to them.

Source: NJ.com, "'Claudia's Law' would require patient notification of abnormal chest X-rays," Carly Q. Romalino, July 18, 2013

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