Cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death among Australians – second only to cardiovascular diseases. In fact, according to the Cancer Australia, a further 126,800 people are expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer during 2015.
While many forms of cancer are terminal and incurable, others can be treated with radiotherapy. This procedure uses radiation to target cancer cells and stop them from multiplying further. Depending on the severity of the cancer patient’s condition, a course of radiation should commence as soon as the doctor sees fit.
Need for swift action
When a person’s life is on the line, doctors and other medical professionals must act quickly to ensure the person has the best chance of survival. With this in mind, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released statistics around radiotherapy wait times across various forms of the treatment.
In its report, titled Radiotherapy in Australia: report on a pilot data collection 2013-14, the majority of patients who require radiotherapy to treat their cancer begin treatment within two weeks. If the case is deemed an emergency, nearly all start immediately.
Wait times positive
AIHW spokesperson Clara Jellie explained the wait time results in more detail.
“For those who needed emergency treatment, 90 per cent began treatment on the same day or the next day. For non-emergency treatment, 50 per cent started treatment within 13 days and 90 per cent within 33 days,” she said.
In cases where curing the cancer was unsuccessful, doctor will suggest palliative care – designed to control pain and improve the patient’s quality of life. Radiotherapy is an option in this situation, with the AIHW statistics citing that almost all (90 per cent) people start the treatment within three weeks.
Risk of medical negligence
While the standard of cancer care has improved significantly in Australia over recent years, there is still a risk of medical negligence if you or a family member is not treated within certain time parameters. Regardless of whether it is the fault of the hospital involved, a doctor or any other medical professional, cancer patients require a certain level of care to address their needs.
If you believe that a time delay has caused you or a family member more harm or exacerbated their illness, it is important to speak to a medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible.
These lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis so they can advise you on your chances for success free of charge – if they think you have a case, it’s completely up to you whether you engage their services.