We live in an age where medical science achieves new and more advanced levels of diagnosis and treatment practically on a daily basis. It is common knowledge that early detection of diseases, breast cancer as an example, leads to significantly more positive outcomes and potential cures. Notwithstanding, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently reported that physicians frequently fail to recommend genetic testing for breast cancer patients who may also be at high risk for mutations linked to ovarian cancer and other cancers, as well as members of their family. www.ama.assn.org. Successful treatment for these life-threatening diseases depend upon the patient having as much information about the risks of the disease to enable them to guide the choices necessary for treatment.
Equally important as genetic testing is genetic counseling which is designed to provide patients with as much knowledge and information as possible about the disease, their risk for other diseases, and whether family members are at risk and should be tested as well. According to Reshma Jagsi, a radiation oncologist at the University of Michigan Health System, genetic counseling and testing is a powerful tool available for all of us and should be recommended by the treating physician. A survey of 2,500 breast cancer patients taken two months after undergoing surgery revealed that while two thirds had wanted genetic testing, only one third actually received it. Their doctors simply failed to make the recommendation.
As an example, a simple blood test can detect with great certainty several genetic disorders in men and women that may impact on their decision to have children and/or consider IVF. Such disorders as Tay Sachs, which is fatal to the newborn, and Fragile X Syndrome, which leads to severe mental and physical disabilities in the child can be detected pre-natally with DNA testing and allows the parents the opportunity to make informed decisions about the pregnancy.
Jack Wurgaft, a founding partner of Javerbaum Wurgaft advises “The JW law firm has been at the forefront in representing individuals and families who have not received genetic counseling, or have, but serious errors occurred by the genetic counselor or the medical geneticist and laboratory, as well as those who should have been tested but were not.The consequences to the individual and their family can be grave, resulting in a poor prognosis when a promising prognosis should have been the standard, along with lifelong extraordinary medical costs for care and treatment that would otherwise not have been necessary.”
If you or a loved one has been injured by failure to perform genetic testing, contact the attorneys from the JW Medical Malpractice team, we are here to help.