Some commonly misdiagnosed conditions seen in National Health Service hospitals and private healthcare institutions include:
Cancer misdiagnosis: Claiming compensation
If you have been affected or concerned by medical negligence or a misdiagnosis of cancer, you may wish to obtain specialised help and support today by contacting one of our expert solicitors here. Compensation claims are designed to provide a legal remedy for unnecessary suffering caused if a diagnosis is delayed, or if a different illness is misdiagnosed as cancer.
Diabetes complications due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
Negligent treatment of diabetes by medical professionals can often cause or worsen a host of other health problems.
Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of various illnesses and conditions including:
- High blood pressure which can aggravate eye and kidney diseases.
- Kidney disease and kidney failure: high blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys and cause chronic kidney disease (CKD). About 1 in 3 adults with diabetes has CKD.
- Lower HDL “good” cholesterol and raise LDL “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) can cause numbness and discomfort and can even be disabling.
- Blindness and other eye issues including: Diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma; these problems can all result in loss of vision.
- Amputations can be necessary to stop the spread of infection due to diabetes-related blood vessel and/or nerve damage.
Complications usually develop over a long period and can be symptomless. Early detection and treatment is crucial in preventing an underlying or more severe condition from worsening. If you feel your diabetes treatment has been negligent or mismanaged, contact our Medical Negligence specialists to discuss your case.
Can I claim for compensation?
If you are wondering how to claim, it is best to take qualified legal advice, so you receive help and support when it counts. Making a claim as soon as possible after receipt of the misdiagnosis tends to increase the probability of a successful outcome. Once made, the NHS has to deal with complaints within twelve months, whereas private healthcare institutions have a maximum of four months to respond to a letter of claim, according to court rules.
Sometimes, medical practitioners may admit liability but contest the extent of the consequent injuries or damage. Medical claims cases often involve highly sophisticated legal arguments and expert witnesses. For a claim to succeed, it is necessary to prove that the patient was a victim of misdiagnosis and that he or she suffered as a result. Time off work and loss of earnings is a significant factor in some cases and can form part of misdiagnosis claims when the financial hardship is a direct consequence of the original negligence.
The legal team has to show that the treatment the patient received fell below the level that would reasonably be expected and, therefore, caused harm (known as the Bolam test, after a legal precedent established in 1957). Finally, in line with modern case law, it may now be sufficient to show that the patient could not properly have given what is known as informed consent because he or she was not fully informed about the treatment and all the associated risks.
The NHS treats around 243 million patients a year and though the error rate is around just half of one-hundredth of one percent (i.e. 0.005%), the relatively few misdiagnoses that do occur can lead to unfortunate and severe ramifications.
Within the health service, a written constitution exists to formalise patients’ rights to make a complaint and receive compensation. The National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) deals with medical negligence claims. Data recently provided under the terms of a Freedom of Information request showed that during the 2014/15 financial year, there were over 1,300 claims for failure, delays or mistakes associated with medical diagnoses. Total compensation payouts came to over £193 million and the highest individual settlements were in the £3-4m range, although average payouts were lower.
Surprisingly, diagnosis errors had occurred in the treatment of as many as one in six patients at some stage in their childhood or adult life, according to a survey carried out in 2009.
Expert legal advice will be required to bring a claim
This is an area that the medical profession is very keen to get right, yet mistakes do happen and the consequences are often severe. The effects can be life-changing or fatal and very often, financial compensation is essential to support the victims of delayed diagnosis or their families.
Whether medical negligence compensation is due in the event of delayed or misdiagnosis, the legal test will usually be whether another doctor would have diagnosed the patient’s condition correctly if presented with the same symptoms. This can be difficult to prove and expert legal advice will be required to bring a claim.