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Published 16th April 2019 by | Medical Negligence

Wrong or delayed diagnosis? How to claim compensation

When you go to a GP, or other medical professional, you expect to receive good quality care, an accurate diagnosis, and receive appropriate treatment. However, this process can sometimes go wrong.

Up to 1,300 patients a year file claims for Medical Negligence due to wrong or delayed diagnosis, and those who win their cases can often receive substantial sums of compensation. So, what is wrong or delayed diagnosis, and how do you go about claiming for it?

What is delayed diagnosis?

There are many scenarios that may arise where a diagnosis is delayed. For example;

  • when medical professionals miss the significance of the symptoms you are presenting;
  • when medical practitioners misinterpret test results, radiology etc;
  • or a system failure, such as a hospital forgetting to send out letters to patients to return for repeat testing (i.e. a cancer screening programme).

A delayed diagnosis can cause extra suffering and at worst, it can seriously impact your quality of life, or life expectancy.

What is wrong diagnosis?

In simple terms this is getting the answer wrong. In some cases, medical professionals may incorrectly diagnose you as suffering from a serious illness or condition. This could result in you unnecessarily undergoing, treatment, for instance, a debilitating course of chemotherapy, or an organ transplant.

This can be compounded if the wrong diagnosis has resulted in an actual condition being overlooked. In a case like this, you may have suffered the worst of both delayed and wrong diagnosis.

What conditions can be misdiagnosed?

The list is almost endless, but conditions that come up frequently include:

  • Cancer of various types (e.g. lung, breast, bowel and cervical cancer)
  • Diabetes
  • Infections (e.g. meningitis, sepsis, pneumonia)
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Fractures
  • Internal bleeding
  • Appendicitis
  • Head injuries
  • Deep vein thrombosis leading to pulmonary embolism
  • ParalyticIleus / trapped or twisted bowel
  • Infections

This list is not exhaustive, as many other conditions can also be misdiagnosed and open to a potential claim for Medical Negligence.

Can I claim for wrong or delayed diagnosis?

In principle, yes, but you will need to a specialist Medical Negligence solicitor as soon as possible, due to time limits. The general rule is 3 years from the date of negligence or from your date of knowledge. We have posted a separate article surrounding “limitation”, which provides more details.

Furthermore, to succeed in a claim for wrong or delayed diagnosis you must prove that the negligence caused you further injury, or that the outcome would have been different. This is not always as easy as it sounds.

Therefore, the sooner you speak with a specialist Medical Negligence solicitor, the sooner they will be able to advise you on these often technically difficult issues.

How do I make a claim for wrong or delayed diagnosis?

The first step is to speak to Medical Negligence experts who specialise in this area of law.

They will look at your experience and advise whether you have a good case. If so, they will help you to establish who the claim should be brought against. For example, if you were in the care of the NHS, this will probably be either a GP surgery or an NHS trust. In the case of private care, it will be the individual practitioner.

The Medical Negligence specialist solicitor will help you establish that any wrong or delayed diagnosis was a breach of the duty of care owed to you by that medical practitioner and that the breach of duty caused you further injury.  This will typically involve commissioning medical expert reports, which will be arranged for you.

How will the case proceed?

Any claim for Medical Negligence compensation can take a long time. Even the simplest cases – where the organisation or professional admits liability, may take up to a year before the level of compensation can be decided. If the claim is contested in court, cases can last several years.

how much compensation can I expect?

The amount of compensation you are likely to receive if your claim is successful will depend largely on the nature and extent of the injuries suffered as a direct result of the wrong or delayed diagnosis.

In general, compensation is divided into two types: general damages and special damages.

For general damages, the court will take into account the pain, suffering and disability you have suffered as a result of the negligence. It will also consider whether your quality of life, or life expectancy, have been affected by the wrong or delayed diagnosis

Special damages cover specific costs you have incurred as a result of the negligence. These might range from medical fees and the cost of transport to and from the hospital, to loss of income, home care and modifications required to your home or your vehicle.

In most cases where the effects of the negligence will continue, compensation will be paid partly in a lump sum and partly as an annuity to meet ongoing costs. In appropriate cases you may need to set up a Trust Fund to administer the compensation.

If you feel you have suffered as a result of wrong or delayed diagnosis, we are here to help. Our Medical Negligence experts are nationally recognised experts in their field, with over 30 years of experience, and will support you through every step of your claim.

Please contact us either by phone on 01525 378177, or online.

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