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Have you been misdiagnosed?
It’s natural to trust your GP to make a sound diagnosis. They’re generally the first port of call for those who are feeling unwell.
Occasionally, though, doctors incorrectly diagnose a condition, leading to further injury, deterioration, psychological distress, or all of the above. Last year alone, we spoke with over 6,500 people who suffered from medical misdiagnosis and delay, and over 1,400 patients who had been given the wrong medication for their condition.
If you’ve suffered as a result of being misdiagnosed, whether you were seen by your GP, a private doctor, an NHS doctor, physiotherapist or other healthcare professional, you might be entitled to seek compensation. You can call us today on 0800 376 0150, for free, to speak about your medical misdiagnosis claim.
What counts as a medical misdiagnosis?
You might be unsure whether your experience would count as a ‘misdiagnosis’. If you’ve gone through any of the following, it’s likely that you’ve suffered as a result of being misdiagnosed:
- Your doctor failed to diagnose your condition at all, leading to a deterioration in your health or mental wellbeing
- Your doctor gave you incorrect or unsuitable medication or treatment based on their incorrect diagnosis, and your health has been negatively affected as a result
- Your doctor delayed correctly diagnosing your condition, which became worse as a result of the delay.
Which medical conditions can be misdiagnosed?
Unfortunately, there are many conditions that can be misdiagnosed. Failing to diagnose any injury or illness at the first opportunity can lead to further complications, including deterioration in physical health, impact on mental health and in certain circumstances, death. Below are some conditions that can lead to serious complications if they aren’t diagnosed at the earliest opportunity.
Cauda Equina syndrome
This condition requires urgent medical attention to stop a slipped disc pressing on the nerves. Signs of its onset include a loss of sensation in the genital area, incontinence and urinary retention. If you reported symptoms such as these to a medical professional and they failed to act, you might be able to make a medical misdiagnosis claim.
Bacterial meningitis is a life-threatening condition and must be treated as a medical emergency. Symptoms are known to include a combination of fever, a non-blanching rash, vomiting, neck pain, drowsiness and convulsions. If a medical professional missed your meningitis symptoms or those of your child, you should contact us about whether you can make a misdiagnosis claim.
Appendicitis needs to be treated urgently with surgery to remove the appendix. If your appendix bursts (ruptures), it can result in infection or the development of abscesses or blood poisoning, any of which can be life-threatening. If you reported pain in your lower right abdomen, along with other symptoms such as a high temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea, but your GP or A&E failed to act quickly, you may be eligible to make a medical misdiagnosis claim.
A subarachnoid haemorrhage is a bleed on the brain. Typical symptoms include a stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and vision problems. Often, a patient’s symptoms will be mistakenly attributed to a migraine or a headache, but it is the combination of symptoms that should alert a medical professional to the fact that a subarachnoid haemorrhage needs to be diagnosed or excluded.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb in one of the fallopian tubes. As the embryo grows, the tube stretches and, if the pregnancy continues, the tube can rupture. This causes pain and bleeding which requires medical attention. Many claims involving ectopic pregnancy are made for the pain and suffering caused by the delay in diagnosis, rather than from the damage to the fallopian tube itself. If you suffered as a result of a delay in the diagnosis of your ectopic pregnancy, you might have grounds for a medical misdiagnosis claim.
One of the most common conditions to be misdiagnosed is cancer, because it presents symptoms similar to many other, less serious, illnesses. The disease is caused by abnormal cells in the body which begin to divide uncontrollably, leading them to multiply. This build-up of abnormal cells may form a tumour and the cells may also start to spread around the body. There are more than 200 types of cancer, and sometimes medical professionals fail to diagnose the condition when symptoms first appear.
Unfortunately, a delayed or failed cancer diagnosis may seriously affect your ability to fight the condition whereas a timely diagnosis, followed by early treatment, could dramatically increase your prospects of beating cancer and going into remission. If you have suffered due to an incorrect or delayed cancer diagnosis, you may be able to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim. Read about some common reasons for cancer misdiagnosis claims below.
What causes cancer misdiagnosis?
Delays in cancer diagnosis can be caused by errors such as:
- Failure to request tests or examinations
- Misinterpreted or misread scans and X-rays
- Blood or tissue samples incorrectly interpreted
Certain symptoms should alert medical professionals to the fact that a patient should be checked for cancer. For example:
- An inability to swallow (dysphagia) should result in an urgent referral to exclude oesophageal cancer
- Blood in the urine should result in an immediate referral to exclude bladder and kidney (renal) cancer
- Rectal bleeding should, in certain circumstances, result in an immediate referral to exclude bowel cancer
- Headaches with other visual symptoms should lead to a consideration of a brain pathology
- Breast lumps require appropriate analysis and investigation
Sadly, cancer misdiagnosis and delays in treatment can occur, even when you have been referred appropriately. Tissue samples can be lost or misreported, and follow-up treatment can be missed due to administrative errors.
According to the Office for National Statistics “while there are many factors that can influence a patient’s chance of surviving cancer, a major factor is the stage of the disease at diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis would increase overall net-survival for all cancers.”
If you think your cancer could have been diagnosed more quickly, get in touch on 0800 376 0150. We’ll talk through the background to your situation with you and help you find out if you can claim compensation for cancer misdiagnosis. Read more about cancer misdiagnosis on our dedicated page.
Has misdiagnosis affected your mental health?
Being misdiagnosed may not only affect your physical health but your mental wellbeing, too.
Finding out that you have a serious illness is upsetting at any stage of diagnosis. But being told your ability to recover may have suffered due to medical professionals misdiagnosing your condition or delaying treatment can be hugely frustrating and devastating. Unfortunately, this can lead many people to suffer with high levels of anxiety, depression and an inability to sleep.
In fact, our Make it Right campaign research has shown that of 1,000 people surveyed, 72% suffered from mental health issues because of their circumstances. 35% reported anxiety and stress, 21% suffered from sleep deprivation and 18% experienced depression.
Unfortunately, the impact on mental health is not short-lived, with nearly half of those surveyed saying their mental health issues are ongoing. We spoke to Dr Claire Freeman – a clinical psychologist – to understand more about the impact on mental health.
Dr Claire Freeman discusses how #mentalhealth can be affected by injuries | #MakeItRight
Dr Claire Freeman discusses how #mentalhealth can be affected by injuries
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How do I make a claim?
We understand that you may be going through a difficult time, which is why we strive to make our misdiagnosis claims process as straightforward and hassle-free as possible. To take the first step towards compensation, all you need to do is get in touch with us on 0800 376 0150 for free to chat to one of our specialist advisors.
At your own pace, we will talk through your situation and the treatment you received to gain an understanding of what happened. Our team are here to offer free, impartial advice that will help you decide if you’d like to proceed with a misdiagnosis claim. No pressure.
If you do decide that you’d like to proceed with a claim, our team will introduce you to a medical negligence lawyer for your case. Your solicitor will then be your point of contact and provide any support you need through the process, as well as arranging the paperwork and explaining your legal rights.
What do I need to prove during my misdiagnosis claim?
During medical misdiagnosis claims, our specialist solicitors will work hard to show that your suffering was due to medical professionals working below their legal duty of care. Depending on your individual case, your lawyer may need to prove that your doctor completely failed to diagnose your condition, gave you incorrect medication or delayed diagnosing you – all of which made your condition or mental health worse.
Our medical negligence solicitors are there to do all the hard work – so you don’t need to worry about tackling this by yourself. They will be able to do the majority of the paperwork, speaking with the other party and handling the legal jargon. If they need anything from you, they’ll be able to guide you through each step in your own time, at your own pace.
Can I make a claim for someone else?
In short – yes, you can make a medical misdiagnosis claim on behalf of someone else. Whether your friend, partner or child has suffered a misdiagnosis, we can help make it right.
You may need to submit a claim for someone else if they are unable to do it for themselves, for instance if they are suffering from brain injuries, dementia, severe autism or another mental health condition which may affect their decision making. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is in place to ensure that vulnerable parties who lack capacity can be protected by those with their best interests in mind.
If your child has suffered due to being misdiagnosed, you can also make a claim on their behalf. While we can’t go back and change what has happened to them, we can obtain compensation to help them get the support or treatment they need going forward. You can make child injury claims any time up to their 18th birthday.
Unfortunately, there are some tragic cases of medical misdiagnosis which result in a loss of life. We cannot take away the pain and grief you feel, but we can help you with the financial pressure you may be facing. The compensation we may be able to recover will help you to pay for legal expenses, funeral fees and other ongoing costs.
Do I need to make a claim within a certain time limit?
Yes, all medical misdiagnosis claims must be made within three years of the incident. In misdiagnosis cases, this is classed as the date that you received the correct diagnosis and realised that your previous diagnosis was incorrect or delayed.
There are certain situations where the three-year time limit doesn’t apply, such as:
- Cases involving children: If your child has been misdiagnosed, you have up to their 18th birthday to make a claim on their behalf. After that, they have three years to make a claim themselves.
- Cases involving brain damage: If a patient is suffering from a serious brain injury that means they are unable to claim for themselves, there is no time limit on making a medical misdiagnosis claim.
I’m still having treatment – will making a claim affect this?
If you’re still having treatment for your illness at the same hospital or medical centre that misdiagnosed you, we understand you may feel worried about making a misdiagnosis claim. However, it is against the law for any medical professional to refuse to treat you due to an ongoing complaint or claim against them, so your treatment would not be affected. That being said, if you would feel more comfortable receiving treatment at an alternative hospital or doctor’s surgery, you can ask to be transferred.
Can I make a claim using no win no fee?
Absolutely. Making a misdiagnosis claim with us is completely risk-free thanks to our ‘no win no fee’ agreement. In short, if you lose your case, you don’t have to pay anything. If you win your case, a pre-agreed fee will be deducted from the compensation you’re awarded to pay for your lawyer’s services. Your specialist solicitor will agree this with you before starting work on your case. Typically, customers pay up to 25% of the compensation they receive to cover legal fees.
Our no win no fee agreement means you don’t have to pay anything upfront, there are no hidden charges and you’ll only ever pay fees from the compensation you recover – so you’ll never be left out of pocket.
What is "No win no fee"?
What is “No win no fee”?
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Can I claim against the NHS for misdiagnosis?
Yes – if you’ve been misdiagnosed in the hands of the NHS in the last three years, we can help make it right. We understand that it can be a stressful situation, so our no win no fee solicitors will be on hand every step of the way to make sure your misdiagnosis claim is as hassle-free as possible.
Many people who ask us how to claim against the NHS for misdiagnosis are concerned that they will take money out of the NHS budget. But don’t worry – making an NHS claim will not affect the NHS budget whatsoever. This is because all medical misdiagnosis claims against the NHS are handled by their own specialist insurance company, NHS Resolution.
All NHS Trusts pay an annual premium to NHS Resolution, so there is a pot of money available to resolve any patient claims against the NHS.
Can I make a misdiagnosis claim against a private healthcare provider?
You can of course submit a misdiagnosis claim if you have suffered a delayed diagnosis, incorrect diagnosis or the wrong medication from a private healthcare provider. You must make your claim within three years of the incident occurring.
Medical misdiagnosis claims against private hospitals or Trusts work differently to those against the NHS. This is because private medical professionals have their own liability insurance to cover any disputes as stated by The General Medical Council(GMC). Because of this, private misdiagnosis claims are usually more complicated and can therefore take longer to resolve.
If you think you have grounds for a claim, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 376 0150 for free advice.
Do I need to go to court during my medical misdiagnosis claim?
It is unlikely you will have to go to court to settle your case. In fact, almost 70% of claims were settled without formal court proceedings between 2017 and 2018, according to the NHS Resolution Report.
Occasionally when negotiations have broken down, cases can be referred to court. If this happens, your specialist solicitor will take care of all the core legalities and fully prepare you, ensuring you feel calm and confident.
When Katie’s appendix burst and went unnoticed by medical professionals, her mum, Julie, feared the impact it would have on her long-term health. That’s why Julie contacted us to help make it right.
Katie’s medical negligence story - National Accident Helpline
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Not sure if you have a claim?
For over 25 years, we’ve helped people who have suffered medical negligence to claim compensation after they’ve sustained injuries that could have been avoided with a correct diagnosis. Our friendly advisors are waiting for your free and confidential call.