Cancer Misdiagnosis Software Error

July 4, 2023

Between May 10th and May 18th of 2023, approximately 400 people received letters that told them they had been diagnosed with cancer. As you might expect, this was a terrifying moment for the recipient of these letters and sent many into a panic. And the worst part of this situation is that it never should have happened.

These letters were sent by the telemedicine vendor PWN Health on behalf of the biotech company Grail. Each of the people who received these letters had taken the Galleri cancer detection test produced by Grail. And all of them were cancer free.

But due to a software configuration error at PWN, the recipients of these letters received a false positive diagnosis.

Who Is Responsible for This Cancer Misdiagnosis?

PWN Health has taken full responsibility for the error. The company claims that the software was misconfigured when those letters were sent out and that the error has since been resolved. Also, the company claims it informed the customers who received a false diagnosis about the error.

Despite this, several life insurance companies have paused their business relationships with Grail.

Why Did Life Insurance Companies Have a Business Relationship with Grail?

Typically, life insurance companies charge more for insurance if someone is more likely to die relatively soon. If, for example, your parents both died of cancer in their early 60s, your insurance is going to be more expensive than if they both lived to almost 100.

However, if the insurance company has evidence that the risk of you dying is lower, they will decrease your insurance premiums. This is beneficial to you because it saves you money and to the insurance company because those savings make you more likely to purchase their insurance.

The Grail cancer detection test is a sound product that can identify up to 50 different types of cancer. And the roughly $1,000 cost is relatively cheap compared to the cost of decades of insurance.

Before this recent problem, these facts made it beneficial for life insurance companies to recommend the test to customers and use the results to provide discounts when the results were good.

What Are the Possible Consequences of a Cancer Misdiagnosis?

Luckily, PWN Health identified the problem and acted quickly, minimizing the consequences of this grievous error. But even quick action may not have prevented all the negative effects of a cancer diagnosis.

Unfortunately, misdiagnosing cancer costs billions of dollars in unnecessary medical bills every year. And the cost to an individual can be devastating, especially if it results in unnecessary treatment. Cancer treatments are often expensive, painful, and potentially lethal in some circumstances.

Even in the best circumstances, like this one, someone who receives a false diagnosis may suffer significant mental and emotional distress. That type of distress can interfere with daily activities like going to work or doing chores. Even if the mistake is corrected in a little over a week, it could cost someone hundreds or thousands of dollars to recover.

And in the worst circumstances, a cancer misdiagnosis can result in death. Chemotherapy is a dangerous form of treatment that injects poisons into the body of a patient. It can be necessary when someone has cancer. But that same poison can kill a healthy person with no benefit.

Most of the time, though, misdiagnosis is extremely costly. Cancer treatments are often very expensive. Even cheap treatment will probably cost tens of thousands of dollars. And the most expensive treatment could cost millions.

Can You Sue for Misdiagnosis of Cancer?

If you have spent tens of thousands of dollars or more on unnecessary cancer treatment, you most likely want your money back. The main way to get compensation for the money you shouldn’t have spent is by filing a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.

When you have been incorrectly diagnosed with cancer, that is a form of medical malpractice. As soon as you determine that you were incorrectly diagnosed, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can determine what damage you suffered from the false diagnosis.

If you have a claim for significant damages, your cancer misdiagnosis attorney can either negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. Either option can get you compensation for:

  • Costs for unnecessary treatment
  • Mental and emotional suffering from the false diagnosis
  • Lost wages resulting from the false diagnosis
  • Costs from end-of-life or legal decisions you might have made after the diagnosis
  • The increased cost of life and health insurance due to an incorrect diagnosis

Additionally, if a loved one has died due to a misdiagnosis, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to get compensation for your loss. Consult with a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer from McEldrew Purtell to learn more about your legal options.

Protect Yourself from Cancer Misdiagnosis

If you get a diagnosis of cancer, before you do anything you might regret, consult with your doctor and consider getting a second opinion. While a medical malpractice attorney can help you recover money if a misdiagnosis harms you or your family, it is always best to avoid spending that money in the first place.

False positives cost billions in unnecessary treatment every year. Avoid being part of that statistic by speaking to the right doctors and lawyers after getting a positive diagnosis.

If you or someone you know was misdiagnosed as a result of this event or a different situation, contact us to discuss your legal options. Initial consultations are always free.