Smith, Meier & Webb, LPA

Cancer screening and a physician's responsibility to the patient, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the topic of cancer screening. As we noted, physicians are expected to have a general knowledge of cancer screening guidelines and to act appropriately in ordering screening tests and referring to specialists when necessary. Surprisingly, many physicians do not have the degree of knowledge concerning cancer screening that patients should be able to expect them to have.

According to a recent study published in the online journal CANCER¸ out of 101 family physicians who were surveyed, less than half agreed that screening tests reduce lung cancer-related deaths, despite clinical trials having shown that cancer screening is capable of early detection of lung cancers. In addition, the survey showed that most family physicians who participated in the survey were not sufficiently aware of lung cancer screening recommendations for high risk patients. 

The survey may not be an accurate representation of family physicians' knowledge of lung-cancer screening in general, and likely is not representative of cancer specialists Cancer specialists are, of course, expected to have a greater degree of knowledge concerning cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, and can be held accountable for failing to follow more specific standards of care in their area of specialty.

Still, the survey results are still concerning given that family physicians are often the first point of contact cancer patients have in the medical system when it comes to diagnosing and treating their condition. Of course, those who have been harmed because of a family physician's failure to order cancer screening or recognize symptoms of cancer should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine their options for compensation. 

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