As computer applications, and more importantly smart phone applications (apps), continue to develop, people’s lives are supposed to become easier. There are apps that will help you balance your check book and make a budget. There are apps that will tell you how many calories are in your lunch order. There are even apps that are thought to treat acne by emitting a specific type of light from your phone.
However, there are also many medical apps hitting the market that may have dire consequences.
Skin Cancer Detection Apps
At this time, there are four apps available on the market which claim they can diagnose a mole as skin cancer by scanning it with your phone. Users are supposed to scan their mole and allow the app to run its diagnostics for a result. If the app believes you need to seek medical attention it will advise you. If it does not believe the mole to be cancerous, it will give the user a negative result.
A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, however, has found that these apps are not as accurate as they claim, and they fear that people will use these apps instead of a medical exam. The study found:
• Out of the three free-use apps, one in every 33 diagnoses was incorrect. The study used all cancerous moles to determine if the apps could actually detect the disease.
• The fourth app, which costs $5 per use, was wrong 1 in 53 times. While these are better odds, they are still very risky.
• The three free apps use an algorithm to make their diagnosis, the pay-per-use app sends the photos to a medical examiner for a diagnosis.
The Cost Of Delayed Diagnosis
Skin cancers are one of the most aggressive types of cancers known. They are also one of the easiest to treat when caught at an early stage. It is very important therefore, to have a medical professional look at any skin lesion or mole that gives you concern at the earliest time possible.
Using these apps could delay that initial identification and treatment of the skin cancer, leading to more intense treatments or possible death. While these medical apps are very helpful, they should not be the only source of medical information used.
Liability And Skin Cancer Apps
If a person uses a skin cancer detection app, and it incorrectly states that there is no cancer present and there is, is the app designer liable to the user? This is a very tough question that has not yet been answered in the court, but it is safe to assume that the application designer or manufacturer would be held liable for their product.
If you look at other product liability cases, the manufacturer/creator of the product is generally held responsible when the product they produce does not meet expectations. Anyone who has been misdiagnosed by one of these applications should immediately schedule a consultation appointment with an attorney, for instance a firm of personal injury attorneys in New York City or a firm in your local area, to determine if they have any rights to compensation.
In the end, computer and phone apps are a wonderful thing. They can help you find your way around town, connect with friends, and even recommend a good place to eat. The medical applications are useful, and in some cases can even save lives. However, they are still only computer programs and not an experienced doctor. Always seek medical attention if you believe you have a threatening condition such as skin cancer.
- License: Creative Commons image source
As a smartphone user herself, author Georgina Clatworthy understands the attraction of health apps and how their ease of use can potentially mislead users into thinking they give accurate results. The Perecman Firm are a trusted firm of attorneys in New York City who have been helping accident victims for over 30 years. When it comes to your health, if there is a case to claim damages, be sure to hire attorneys who are dedicated to your needs.