When you visit the GP, a hospital or another health professional with a problem, you could assume you would be able to get the appropriate assessment, advice and treatment, but what happens when you do not? If you have suffered harm because of an avoidable medical misdiagnosis, you may be feeling frustrated, but there could be something you could do to redress the balance. This guide offers information on various different types of medical misdiagnoses, from missed diagnosis to late diagnosis cases, and gives advice on what to do when you have been misdiagnosed and have suffered harm as a result. We hope you find the information we have produced useful. If anything is at all unclear, or you would like a free, no-obligation assessment of your case, then do not hesitate to call us on 0161 696 9685. Otherwise, why not take a look at the information we have provided below to see if your query has been answered already.
Jump To A Section
- A Guide To Medical Misdiagnosis Claims
- What Do Misdiagnosis, Wrong Or Late Diagnosis Mean?
- Causes Of Medical Misdiagnosis
- Are There Different Types Of Medical Misdiagnosis?
- Missed Diagnosis Of An Illness Or Injury
- Wrongful Diagnosis/Misdiagnosis Of An Illness Or Injury
- Delayed Or Late Diagnosis Of An Illness Or Injury
- Missed Diagnosis Of A Fracture
- Missed Diagnosis Of Cancer
- Could I Claim Compensation For Medical Misdiagnosis By The NHS?
- Could I Claim Compensation For Medical Misdiagnosis By A Private Medical Company
- Medical Misdiagnosis Compensation Claims Calculator
- Special Damages Victims Of Medical Misdiagnosis May Claim
- How Our Team Could Help Victims Of Medical Misdiagnosis
- No Win No Fee Medical Misdiagnosis Claims
- Begin Your Medical Misdiagnosis Claim
- Medical Misdiagnosis Resources
Being given the wrong diagnosis when you present to a doctor with symptoms of an illness or injury could cause you to suffer further harm in a variety of ways. This guide aims to offer assistance to those who have suffered avoidable harm because of medical negligence-related diagnosis errors and gives advice on what to do if you have been misdiagnosed.
How Common Is Misdiagnosis?
You may have seen medical misdiagnosis stories in the media, but how often are doctors wrong about diagnosis? Let us look at the figures pertaining to medical misdiagnosis cases in the UK. The NHS has revealed, in answer to a Freedom Of Information request, that in 2016/17 there were 2084 claims notified to them that related to failure/delay in diagnosis.
In the same year, £153,524,902 was paid out in damages for cases that have been coded as ‘failure/delay diagnosis’, with the top trusts in terms of number of cases including The Pennine Acute NHS Trust, Heart of England NHS Trust and Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.
Is a Misdiagnosis Malpractice?
We should point out here that not all cases of medical misdiagnosis lead to a claim for compensation. Sometimes a misdiagnosis or a late diagnosis could not be prevented. The difference between an instance of misdiagnosis that leads to a personal injury claim and one that doesn’t is whether the doctor’s duty of care has been breached and caused a patient to suffer harm. We explain this in more detail further on in this guide.
Before you ask ‘can I claim for misdiagnosis’, it may be important to understand the different kinds of diagnostic errors that could occur. The main type of diagnostic errors could include:
Missed diagnosis – This is where your medical problem has been missed. If a medical professional has completely failed to recognise that your symptoms could point to a medical condition or illness, this could be considered a missed diagnosis. This could result in you not getting any treatment for your condition, which could lead to it becoming worse and in some cases, harder to treat.
Misdiagnosed – When your symptoms are diagnosed as a different condition.
Wrong diagnosis – The wrong diagnosis would be where a medical professional thinks you have a condition that you don’t have. This could mean that:
- You undergo treatment that you don’t need
- You don’t get the treatment for the condition that you actually have
Delayed diagnosis – When your symptoms are not diagnosed when they could be, this could delay your treatment, which means you medical condition could get worse and you may have to undergo a longer recovery or more invasive treatment. In some cases, it could reduce your life expectancy.
There could be many different reasons why you might have suffered from a medical misdiagnosis. It would be prudent for us to remind readers, however, that not all cases of misdiagnosis are classed as being negligent.
Some incidence of medical negligence-related diagnosis errors could include:
- Tests not being ordered as the symptoms you experienced were not investigated properly
- Incorrect tests being ordered
- Test results not being analysed correctly – This could include blood tests, radiographs and more
- Improper supervision of junior medics
- Inadequate expertise
- And more…
Whatever the reason you suffered a hospital misdiagnosis, a misdiagnosis by a GP or another healthcare professional, if you could prove that negligence led to you suffering avoidable harm, you could have a claim for compensation.
There are different types of medical misdiagnosis. These could include:
- Dental misdiagnosis
- GP misdiagnosis
- Hospital misdiagnosis
Within all of these could include medical misdiagnoses where there was:
- A failure to diagnose
- A wrong diagnosis
- A delayed diagnosis
We look at these in more detail in the sections below.
If an injury or illness is missed, then you could suffer serious harm, especially if it is a serious illness that you are suffering from, such as an acute illness (sepsis, meningitis, a heart condition etc) or an injury such as a broken bone in your neck, for example.
Even if your illness or injury is not so serious, a missed diagnosis could still lead to longer recovery time, a poorer prognosis, or more pain than you should have suffered.
Can I Claim For Misdiagnosis?
If you can prove that your symptoms were communicated to the medical professional and they failed to consider an appropriate diagnosis, causing you to suffer harm, then you could be eligible to compensation. If you would like us to assess your eligibility, please do get in touch.
The wrongful diagnosis of an illness or an injury could not only cause an illness to get worse as it is not being treated, but it could also give you additional problems, where the incorrect treatment, whether in the form of surgery or medication, has caused you further harm.
If you have been operated on when you did not need an operation, because of a wrongful diagnosis, for example, this could leave you not only suffering pain from the surgery and having to go through a recovery period it could also leave you with unnecessary scarring.
In terms of being given medication you did not need, this could have side effects, or could even leave you with a medical condition you did not previously have.
Some medical misdiagnosis cases involve incidents where a diagnosis has eventually been given but caused harm because of the delay between the patient experiencing symptoms and diagnosis and treatment being given. For example, if you sustain a fracture injury, and it is not diagnosed and treated within the optimal window, it could cause the bones to begin to heal improperly, and this could lead to you having to undergo more invasive treatment than you would usually have needed. Or, it may impact your prognosis for recovery.
The same principle could apply to late diagnosis of illnesses. If you suffer a delay in cancer diagnosis due to hospital negligence, for example, this could cause the disease to spread further than it would have with prompt effective diagnosis and treatment. If this happens to you, and you suffer harm because the opportunity for prompt diagnosis and treatment has been avoidably missed, you could claim compensation for the avoidable harm you have suffered.
If you present to your GP with symptoms of a fracture injury, they should try and assess the situation for you, asking questions about how you sustained the injury and what your symptoms are. They may take a look at the affected body part, but if they cannot rule out a fracture injury, and do not have the means to take X-rays, or give an accurate diagnosis for your injury, they should refer you to someone who can. This could be a minor injuries unit, or an Accident and Emergency department, for example.
If you present at a hospital with an injury that could be a fracture, the professionals there should assess you to obtain the most accurate diagnosis for your injury. They may send you for X-rays, or scans, and depending on the results of these radiographs, they should then give the appropriate advice or treatment for your injury.
However, fractures can and have been missed at A&E departments. One study, referenced in the British Medical Journal, that researched medical misdiagnosis cases in a busy emergency department of a hospital over 4 years, found that a staggering 79.7% of medical misdiagnosis incidents were for fracture injuries. The reasons behind these medical misdiagnoses were thought to be a failure to perform radiography (13.4%) and failure to correctly read radiographs (77.8%).
It would be prudent for us to remind readers, however, that sometimes, despite medical professionals doing their level best to properly diagnose fractures, they could be missed for reasons other than medical negligence. If you would like an assessment of your case to see if you could claim compensation for your missed fracture, then we could assist with this.
Cancer could be considered a serious disease, and it could grow and spread quite quickly in some cases, which is why catching and treating it as early as possible could be critical for a good prognosis for recovery. If you had signs and symptoms of cancer that were missed or were mistaken for another condition, without the appropriate diagnostic and treatment pathways being followed, then this could cause the disease to become worse. This could lead to more invasive treatment being required than would have been needed if the cancer had been diagnosed or treated sooner. In some cases, cancer misdiagnosis could even lead to death.
Unfortunately, cancer misdiagnosis does happen. In 2017/18 over £11 million was paid out in damages to claimants whose cases included the words ‘Failure/delay Diagnosis’ and ‘Cancer’ or ‘Malignant’, 150 claims. A link to the freedom of information request relating to this failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosis can be found at the end of this guide.
If you believe you have suffered harm from medical failure to diagnose cancer, or from a late diagnosis then we could assess your case to see if you could claim compensation.
If you’re asking ‘Can I sue the NHS for misdiagnosis?’, the answer would be – it depends.
You would have to fit the eligibility criteria for making a claim, and this would include being able to prove that the medical professional had a duty to provide safe and effective care to you, that they failed in their duty and that you were harmed by their failure. This breaks down to two legal terms, which are:
Breach of duty – You would need to prove that the medical professional could have provided the correct diagnosis at an earlier time if they had not been negligent.
Causation – You would need to also prove that their breach of duty caused avoidable harm. This could be tricky in some cases, particularly when there may have been pre-existing conditions/injuries suffered by the claimant. This could be why many people who have suffered medical misdiagnosis rely on the experience of a solicitor to help them with such claims.
Just as an NHS medical professional has a duty of care to provide safe, effective care, so too do private medical professionals. If you have suffered clinical negligence at the hands of a private GP or at a private hospital, for example, you could still go ahead and make a medical misdiagnosis claim against them if such negligence has caused you harm.
How Common Is Misdiagnosis In Private Practice?
Although we do have information regarding NHS negligence figures, it is not possible for us to provide you with accurate statistics pertaining to private medical negligence. However, if you have suffered a wrongful diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis by a private medic that has caused you to suffer harm, we could help to connect you with a solicitor who could handle your claim for you.
If you’re wondering ‘How much compensation will I get for medical misdiagnosis?’, you may assume you would have to use a personal injury claims calculator to get an approximate idea of how much you could receive. However, we have displayed this information in a different way. Instead of including a cancer misdiagnosis calculator, for example, we have put together a table with information from the Judicial College Guidelines which displays the guideline compensation for certain specific injuries that we believe could relate to this type of incident. If, however, you are wondering how much compensation for misdiagnosis you could receive but your injury has not been listed in the table, we do have additional guidelines amounts that we could give you over the phone. Please do bear in mind that these numbers are only approximations, as your case would have to be assessed by an independent medical expert, and a medical report would need to be put together by such an expert before your claim could be valued.
|Female loss of fertility||£107,810 to £158,970||Via injury/disease. This could cause pain and depression.|
|Hernias||£13,970 to £22,680||If physical activity as well as sporting activity and work activity is affected, even after repair.|
|Loss of sight||£46,240 to £51,460||One eye, with sympathetic opthalmia risk in the other eye.|
|Toxicosis – Severe||£36,060 to £49,270||Admission to hospital, or re-admission with haemorrhoids, IBS, incontinence problems. This could affect quality of life and the ability to work.|
|Arm injuries – causing substantial and permanent disablement||£36,770 to £56,180||Either cosmetic or functional|
|Moderate hip/pelvis injuries||£24,950 to £36,770||Substantial injury but with little permanent disability, if any.|
|Bowel injuries||Up to £140,870||Function loss/ potentially requiring colostomy.|
Special damages could also be paid within medical misdiagnosis compensation amounts, as well as the general damages in the table above. These relate to monetary losses and costs associated with your injury. They could include:
Wage loss – Sometimes, when a person takes time off work to recover after an injury/illness, they will be on a reduced level of pay while they are unable to attend work. This could be Statutory Sick Pay or another amount detailed in your employment contract. If you have lost out on income as a direct result of medical negligence, you could claim compensation for this.
Care costs – If you have been injured to the extent that you require assistance with day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing etc, these may come with a cost. These costs could be classed as special damages too.
Medical expenses – Prescription costs, physiotherapy costs and other medical expenses could, if they have arisen because of your injury, be included.
Travel costs – If you needed to take public transport to work because you could not drive because of your injury, for example, these costs may also form part of your claim. Travel to hospital appointments and for visits to your lawyer (if you require them) could also be included.
If you’re wondering how you could get some help with your claim, we’d be delighted to offer some assistance. Here at Legal Helpline, we could not only offer answers to questions you might have about making claims in general, but we could also offer an eligibility check of your medical misdiagnosis case, free of charge, to see whether or not you could make a compensation claim. If we believe you could be eligible to claim compensation for your injuries, we could also connect you with a lawyer who could start your case on a No Win No Fee basis.
We know there are other companies that offer what we do, but we believe our experience and knowledge, as well as the level of service provided by our advisors really do offer a service that you will be happy with. Many of our previous clients have attested to our service and our ability to take some of the strain out of making a claim, and we’re happy to extend this service to you.
You might assume that every personal injury lawyer would require payment upfront to retain their services but if you choose No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitors for your claim you would not have to pay them until they had successfully obtained you a compensation payout. This works via a Conditional Fee Agreement that you would be asked to sign before the lawyer takes on your case. The agreement sets out the percentage that a lawyer would ask for as a success fee if they successfully obtained compensation for you. This could not be any more than 25% of your total compensation payout. In the event that your valid claim did not lead to a payout, you would not have to pay the solicitor a success fee. Some people prefer to launch personal injury claims on a No Win No Fee basis because they believe it presents a less financial risk to them, and they could begin a claim without having to pay anything upfront. When a person has been financially disadvantaged by an injury already, this could be of real benefit.
Are you in a position where you’d like to begin a claim but would like some legal assistance, or do you still have questions about the claims process or your eligibility? Either way, we have made it easy to get in touch with our team. Here at Legal Helpline, we can be reached via email, on email@example.com, on the phone, via 0161 696 9685, or you could use our live chat function or the contact form on our site. We’re always ready to help, so why not get in touch today?
Hospital Negligence Resulting In Death– Here, we take you through some of the information you may need if you are considering making a claim for someone that has died because of hospital negligence.
Prescription Error Claims – This page offers specific guidance on prescription error claims.
Cosmetic Surgery Negligence – Are you considering making a claim for cosmetic surgery negligence? If so, this page could offer some useful information.
Diagnostic Errors – BMJ – The British Medical Journal has published this piece on diagnostic errors.
Freedom Of Information Request – Misdiagnosis – Here, you can read a freedom of information request response from the NHS on a misdiagnosis query.
Freedom Of Information Request – Cancer Misdiagnosis – You can see more information specific to cancer misdiagnosis here.
Guide by JS