Early diagnosis of cancer can greatly impact a patient’s chances of recovery. Although other variables must be factored into the equation, such as the type of cancer, the risk of metastasis generally increases over time. For that reason, doctors are expected to detect early symptoms or warning signs of cancer in their patients. Any breach of that care, such as in the delayed diagnosis of cancer, might give rise to a medical malpractice claim.
Yet a doctor’s duty of care to his or her patients does not end with prompt diagnosis. In the case of cancer, a patient must be informed of the benefits and risks associated with each type of treatment. If a treatment is experimental, untested or not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a patient also has a right to know that information.
One health care professional is under scrutiny for this very issue of alleged miscommunication. According to authorities, the man offers an alternative cancer treatment to desperate patients with pediatric brainstem tumors.
However, the man is not board certified and lacks any formal oncology training. He is simply an internist, offering a treatment using drugs he calls antineoplastons. The drugs are made in a lab, but have some similarity in chemical composition to blood and urine.
Notably, the drugs are not FDA-approved, nor has the man published any results of his treatment in a randomized, controlled trial. As a result, some are questioning whether the man’s claims of an experimental, and possibly miracle cure for cancer crosses the line of the law.
Source: usatoday.com, “Doctor accused of selling false hope to families,” Liz Szabo, Nov. 18, 2013