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Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims

A cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow which can have severe detrimental impacts on a patient’s emotional health as well as physical wellbeing. The prognosis for most cancers is more favourable today than ever before, but the threat of the disease is never unapparent and will cause great distress to the patient and their loved ones.

Prompt and correct diagnosis of cancer is vital in securing the most suitable treatment and the best prognosis. Cancers that are diagnosed late or recognised as other conditions are not likely to be treated effectively, and the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of cancer spreading or becoming more aggressive. This can have a significant impact on a person’s health and their chance of recovery.

Although health care, whether through the NHS or a private practice, is normally of a first rate standard, mistakes occasionally occur and in cancer misdiagnosis, these errors can be devastating. If you have been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis or there was a failure to diagnose your cancer promptly, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

What is cancer?

There are over 200 different cells in the body and in turn, there are more than 200 different types of cancer. Unfortunately, the disease is one of the most diagnosed conditions to patients in the UK, with 352,197 new cases diagnosed in 2013 according to Cancer Research UK. Cancer is caused by alterations in the body’s cells, and normal cells begin to grow rapidly and in an abnormal way. This growth results in lumps or tumours and if not diagnosed and treated promptly, the cancer can cause a host of problems for the patient, including:

  • Cancer can spread to other tissue in different areas of the body
  • The lumps and tumours can put pressure on body structures and organs leading to significant failures in functionality
  • The spread of cancer can progress through blood or the lymphatic system.

There are some cancers which do not cause lumps and tumours. Cancers such as leukaemia are developed in the blood or bone marrow and lead to abnormalities in blood cells.

How can liability for a misdiagnosis be proven?

All medical practitioners throughout the UK are legally obliged to provide an adequate level of care to all patients. This means that every doctor must fully assess patients and make referrals where necessary.

When needed, doctors are legally required to organise additional tests and investigations in order to cement a diagnosis. The General Medical Council regulates all doctors in the UK and provides guidelines on how they should practice medicine and conduct themselves professionally.

If your doctor has failed to provide the relevant level of care to you or has not diagnosed your cancer, or diagnosed an incorrect illness, they may have breached their obligations to you. In these instances, the NHS trust involved will be liable for any harm or suffering caused to you, and you will be eligible to pursue a claim for medical negligence compensation.

Types of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer is a complex disease and presents symptoms that might also indicate a host of other conditions. The complex nature of cancer diagnosis means that occasionally, doctors and specialists make errors. However, all medical practitioners are legally and morally bound to exhaust all options when diagnosing a patient, and if your cancer is overlooked, you are likely to be eligible to claim compensation.

Misdiagnosis can fall into one of two main areas, these are:

  • Failure to diagnose or recognise symptoms at all
  • Diagnosing the wrong illness

Within these two areas, there are a host of potential medical misdiagnosis claims. Some of the most common errors made by medical professionals that may result in a cancer misdiagnosis claim include:

  • Failure to request adequate tests or refer patients to necessary specialists
  • Failure to provide appropriate care following abnormalities in previous tests. This might include the need for a biopsy for further investigations.
  • Failure to react properly to biopsy results
  • Failure to communicate results fully to a patient
  • Failure to arrange necessary treatment following diagnosis
  • Organising incorrect or inappropriate treatment based on the client’s condition and medical history.

Which cancers are often misdiagnosed?

Because cancer can be a complex condition that presents sometimes confusing symptoms, some forms of the disease are more likely to be misdiagnosed as other conditions or overlooked entirely. Some of the most common cancers that are at risk of misdiagnosis include:

  • Cervical and ovarian cancer which are often confused with hormone and fertility related conditions
  • Bowel cancer which often presents symptoms similar to digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Lung cancer which can present symptoms that are similar to respiratory difficulties or viruses.
  • Bone cancer which can be diagnosed as a joint or muscle illness or injury.

This list is in no way exhaustive, and there are many other ways in which misdiagnosis of cancer can occur. If you have suffered from any type of cancer misdiagnosis, an experienced solicitor will be pleased to support you in accessing the personal injury compensation that you are legally entitled to.

How much compensation will I receive?

The amount of compensation that you receive will greatly depend upon the level of suffering inflicted on you by your condition. Solicitors are highly skilled in achieving the highest levels of settlement, and will negotiate compensation with a thorough overview of your losses. This means that they will endeavour to recover costs for the following:

  • Physical suffering
  • The emotional impact caused by the medical negligence
  • Any loss of earnings, both to date and likely future losses
  • Costs of treatment and prescriptions
  • The cost of travel to appointments and for treatment

The solicitors we work in partnership with offer clients a free case assessment service, which provides the ideal opportunity to discuss your case, answer any questions that you might have and provide an experienced estimate of the likely amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.

To find out if you or a loved one has a valid claim, enter your details into the contact form below or call free on 0800 678 1410. An experienced and friendly legal adviser will call you back as soon as possible to discuss your case.