Too late for cancer screening doctor is liable

Too late for cancer screening doctor is liable

Gynecologists who advise their patients to have mammography too late can be held liable

The Higher Regional Court in Hamm came to this decision after a patient was diagnosed with breast cancer too late. The doctor had failed to advise mammography screening after a cancer screening two years ago. Cancer screening has been criticized for some time now. Inadequate information provided by doctors is often criticized. Mammography screening is still controversial. Critics fear that the investigation in many

Women cause unnecessary fear of a tumor, although further research shows no signs of disease. However, there can be dramatic consequences if a doctor does not advise his patient to have a mammogram and the cancer focus is thereby discovered too late. The decision of the Higher Regional Court in Hamm has now ruled in favor of a woman suffering from breast cancer.

The patient complained, who had her long-term gynecologist screened for breast cancer every year as a preventative measure and attached great importance to the preventive medical check-up.

After a mammogram carried out in 2001, the 53-year-old was advised not to repeat such an examination until 2010. In the meantime, the doctor had only carried out an ultrasound (ultrasound) and a tactile examination. After another mammography in 2010, signs of breast cancer were discovered in the now 66-year-old woman. The woman then had to be operated on. There was also radiation and chemotherapy to curb the disease. The patient then sued for damages and compensation for pain and suffering. She believed that her illness could have been discovered earlier. A less stressful treatment would have been possible if the gynecologist had advised her to undergo regular mammography after the examination at that time.

20,000 euros in pain compensation
The judges agreed with the patient and awarded her a compensation for pain and suffering of 20,000 euros. In their opinion, the doctor should have recommended mammography as early as 2008, because at the time the examination was considered the only safe procedure that could have reduced the risk of a fatal course of the disease. The court drew the line in 2008 because for the previous years no reliable statements could be made as to whether the tumor could have been discovered earlier. The ultrasound examination carried out by the defendant doctor, on the other hand, is not as safe as mammography. The examination carried out is not suitable for lowering the mortality rate, since a clear assessment is difficult even for experts.

Gross treatment error
Due to the fact that the patient had always placed emphasis on minimizing the risk of breast cancer and had undergone regular preventive medical examinations, 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 with simple and comparatively risk-free mammography. It was also very likely that no metastases had developed in a previous cancer diagnosis. A less stressful operation might have been enough and chemotherapy could have been avoided, the judges replied. Above all, however, earlier treatment would have given the woman a more favorable prognosis. The judgment is final and the appeal has not been approved by the Higher Regional Court. (fr)

Image: Ekaterina Benthin /

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