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Doctors often misdiagnose side effects of immunotherapy

| Feb 23, 2018 | Medical Malpractice

Immunotherapy offers hope to some cancer patients in New Jersey, but many doctors lack familiarity with the side effects of these new and experimental medicines. Most medical providers know how to recognize side effects from chemotherapy because that approach to cancer treatment has been used for decades. Chemotherapy tends to produce predictable side effects, but immunotherapy might induce a wide variety of symptoms that doctors might misdiagnose and then apply unnecessary treatments.

Unlike chemotherapy that attacks any type of rapidly dividing cells in the body, immunotherapy medications seek to boost people’s immune systems. The medication produces checkpoint inhibitors that block specific molecules that are impeding cells in the immune system. When successful, immunotherapy enables the body to destroy cancer cells.

People undergoing immunotherapy might prevent misdiagnoses of their side effects by informing their doctors about the treatment and providing contact information for their oncologists. The information could alert an emergency room doctor to consider that the person might be experiencing a drug side effect instead of a new medical condition. This proactive effort could enable a doctor to apply appropriate care instead of missing an issue that might result in tissue damage or death.

When a person does suffer a negative event during medical care, doctors and hospital administrators might dodge questions about the cause of the problem. If a patient suspects medical malpractice, the assistance of an attorney could determine if a lawsuit could be an appropriate response. An attorney could obtain the opinions of one or more medical experts in assessing whether there was a failure to exhibit the required standard of care.