The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on most individuals’ daily lives. Not only have hospitals experienced maximum capacity to treat patients with COVID-19, but other patients have suffered from the inability to undergo medically necessary testing and receive treatment for serious medical conditions.
Among the patients hardest hit are women.
Many women throughout the nation with breast cancer have experienced a delay in diagnosis due to the inability to physically enter a medical facility because of COVID-19 concerns. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I foresee and anticipate many women may pursue potential medical malpractice claims pertaining to a delay in diagnosing breast cancer. As such, I have provided the information below, which should help guide women who are concerned about how COVID-19 may have resulted in a delayed breast cancer diagnosis.
The Closure of Breast Imaging Facilities
Because of strict guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as the need to quarantine following exposure or potential exposure to the virus, many breast imaging facilities were closed at some point during the pandemic. Such closures may have prevented some facilities from undergoing federally mandated annual inspections. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidance for breast imaging facilities that temporarily halts the requirement that these facilities be inspected annually.
The closure of breast imaging facilities has had a substantial and direct impact on women who have missed out on annual mammograms that may reveal a breast cancer diagnosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study indicating that there has been an expected decrease in the diagnosis of six common types of cancer, which is attributable to COVID-19-related delays in imaging and testing.
So far, no substantial evidence exists that shows patients are more likely to die due to a COVID-19-related delay in a breast cancer diagnosis. However, research is ongoing, and we may not have all the answers at this time. As data accumulates, the medical community, patients, and the legal community will have a better idea of the real impact of COVID-19 on breast imaging facilities and the delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim Related to a Delay in Diagnosing Breast Cancer
The COVID-19 pandemic may make it more difficult for women with a delayed breast cancer diagnosis to pursue legal action against physicians and/or breast imaging facilities. However, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians, facilities, and other healthcare providers must adhere to laws, guidelines, regulations, and a heightened standard of care when treating patients.
As a trained Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I review potential medical malpractice cases relating to a delayed breast cancer diagnosis by looking at the entire picture and appreciating the unique facts of each client’s situation. Some claims may be viable, while others may not be. Either way, women who have experienced a delay in breast cancer diagnosis deserve to have all the necessary information regarding the interplay between COVID-19 and the closure of breast imaging facilities.
Stay safe out there,
Amber Gilormo, Esq.