Medical Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis Claims

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Although the vast majority of medical staff diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatment correctly in accordance with set professional standards, a small number of unfortunate mistakes do occur – sometimes with serious or devastating consequences.

Can you make a claim?

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    What is medical misdiagnosis?

    There are two main types of misdiagnosis that you may be entitled to claim for:

    Incorrect or missed diagnosis – when a medical professional fails to identify and diagnose symptoms of an illness or health condition. Without the necessary treatment, the illness or condition may worsen and severely affect the patient’s life or even result in death.

    Late diagnosis – also known as delayed diagnosis: when a patient’s condition is initially missed by a medical professional, only diagnosing the condition or illness at a more advanced stage. Again, this can prolong the recovery period or reduce the patient’s life expectancy in more serious cases.

    Which conditions and illnesses can be misdiagnosed?

    Misdiagnosis Claims

    A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis claim can be made for:

    • Pain, suffering and disability
    • Loss of earnings
    • Reduction in life expectancy
    • Treatment, medication or equipment costs

    Making a claim for compensation can help to provide a remedy for suffering, loss of earnings and the cost of rehabilitation or on-going care. Failure to diagnose an illness or medical condition correctly may lead to unnecessary or delayed treatment.

    Common misdiagnoses

    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.

    More information >>

    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.

    Startling statistics

    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.

    If you have suffered as a result of delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, please contact our medical specialists on 0333 987 4161 to discuss your potential claim.

    Common Questions About Your Claim

    In this scenario a claim must be undertaken by a “litigation friend”: this is usually a close family friend, family member, or a spouse who acts in the best interest of the victim.

    How much you can claim will depend very much on the impact and severity of the brain injury received. Many factors will be taken into account

    You may need to be assessed by a medical team for us to better understand your limitations caused by your injury.

    Compensation will take into account future physical and psychological support required, specialist equipment and adaptions to your home that are needed. Also, any future pain and suffering that you may experience will be taken into account alongside the loss of work and income related to your injury.

    If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis please contact one of our specialist solicitors on
    0333 987 4161 to discuss your claim.

    In The News

    The NHS made a near record payout to the parents of a girl left brain damaged after a jaundice treatment went terribly wrong.

    The girl, now 9 years old, was awarded £19 million (the top end for brain injury claims) after being born with severe jaundice and treatment being delayed by Kings College Hospital. The NHS lawyers accepted that there had been shortcomings in her care and agreed to settle the claim.

    The girl’s lawyers claimed that, had medics carried out a complete blood exchange, she may very well have escaped the permanent injury she has been left with.

    Alexander Hutton QC for the trust said “This case did highlight shortcomings in the care that was provided.
    “We are extremely sorry for those shortcomings and I am told that the trust has worked hard to ensure that this will not happen again in the future.”

    In a recent judgement handed down by the UK Supreme Court, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust found itself blamed for incorrect information about waiting times given to an assault victim by a non-clinically trained hospital receptionist. Consequently, the patient, Michael Darnley, suffered severe and lasting consequences.

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