Have you been the victim of a medical misdiagnosis?
If you have suffered due to an injury or illness being misdiagnosed, you could be entitled to claim compensation.
How Much Could You Claim?

Medical Misdiagnosis Claims

Misdiagnosis is one of the most severe and devastating errors that can be made within the medical profession. When a patient presents symptoms to a healthcare professional, they expect and are entitled to receive a thorough investigation and appropriate treatment. Human error, equipment faults and poor training can result in medical staff breaching their duty of care to you and not providing a correct, thorough or relevant diagnosis.

All medical staff in the UK are covered by insurance against personal injury to patients. If you have suffered harm or an avoidable injury due to their error, you could be entitled to make a misdiagnosis claim. Solicitors have extensive experience negotiating the highest compensation levels for people like you who have suffered because of the fault of medical professionals.

To arrange a free case assessment with an experienced legal adviser, call 0800 032 3660 today. Or, if you prefer, enter your details in our online claim form to receive a call back.

What is a medical misdiagnosis?

A medical misdiagnosis is a wrong diagnosis given by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse, resulting in inadequate treatment or no treatment for the patient’s actual injury or illness. This can lead to delayed recovery, worsening of your condition, or even death and could entitle you to make a missed diagnosis claim.

A medical misdiagnosis can occur for various reasons, such as inadequate medical knowledge, incorrect interpretation of test results, failure to consider all symptoms, or miscommunication between medical staff.

There are several types of medical misdiagnosis, including:

  • False Positive occurs when a test result shows that a person has a particular condition or disease when they do not.
  • False Negative occurs when a test result shows that a person does not have a particular condition or injury when they actually do.
  • Missed Diagnosis occurs when a healthcare professional fails to diagnose a medical condition.
  • Delayed Diagnosis occurs when a healthcare professional takes too long to diagnose an injury or illness, which can lead to a worsened prognosis and more severe treatment.
  • Incorrect Diagnosis occurs when a healthcare professional diagnoses a patient with the wrong medical condition.
  • Overdiagnosis occurs when a person is diagnosed with a condition that would not cause any harm or symptoms if it had been left untreated.

Not all cases of misdiagnosis can be considered negligence. However, you could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering if you can show that your doctor has failed to meet the standard of care expected from them, and this has caused you avoidable harm.

How does misdiagnosis occur?

Doctors are usually skilled at correctly diagnosing injuries and illnesses and prescribing effective treatment. However, when a healthcare professional makes an error or gives a wrong diagnosis to a patient, the results can be life-threatening. The causes of a missed diagnosis are usually one or more of the following:

Failure to thoroughly assess

When a doctor is not thorough in their examination or does not assess all symptoms, your condition can easily be misdiagnosed. A medical practitioner who only recognises some of the patient’s complaints will not thoroughly understand their overall health and potentially related conditions.

Inadequate information

If the doctor does not have sufficient information about your medical history, symptoms, and other relevant factors, they may be unable to make an accurate diagnosis. This could entitle you to make a misdiagnosis claim for compensation.

Failure to carry out tests

Similarly, when a doctor fails to carry out tests to help determine the cause of symptoms and cement a diagnosis, they will have failed in their duty of care toward you. Medical exams can take time but are invaluable in diagnosing or ruling out serious illnesses and pinpointing the exact causes of symptoms, which allows for effective treatment to be prescribed.

Errors in reading test results

A doctor who misinterprets or miscommunicates test and investigation results will likely give you a wrong diagnosis. By not recognising the full content of test results or failing to notice anomalies, the doctor may seriously jeopardise your health.

Technical errors

A missed diagnosis can also be due to a technical issue with the medical equipment used to perform tests, such as a malfunctioning X-ray machine.

Systemic factors

Misdiagnosis can also occur due to systemic factors, such as inadequate training or resources, limited access to diagnostic tests, or high workload and time pressure on the medical staff.

These and other factors could result in injury or worsening of your condition. If your solicitor can prove negligence, you might be able to start a medical misdiagnosis claim.

Am I eligible to make a claim for a medical misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails in their duty of care to you as a patient. Examples include when a specialist assesses you and fails to recognise your illness, injury or the underlying cause of your symptoms or when you are diagnosed with a condition which is later confirmed to have been incorrect.

The impact of a delayed or missed diagnosis can be extremely severe and potentially result in death. If a doctor fails to recognise life-threatening symptoms and treat the real cause of your condition, the symptoms may worsen and become untreatable or result in avoidable death. If you or a loved one suffered any harm due to negligence, you might be able to make a misdiagnosis claim.

Generally, to prove a medical breach of duty in the UK, the following four elements must be established:

Duty of care

All healthcare professionals must adhere to a certain standard of care when treating patients. That means they must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you receive the appropriate level of care, skill, and treatment expected of someone with their qualifications and experience.

Breach of duty

They did not act according to the accepted standard of care for their profession. Your injury lawyer will work with experts to show that the medical professional acted in a way that another competent professional would not have in the same circumstances.

Causation

To prove negligence, it is not only necessary to show that the healthcare provider breached their duty of care. You must also show that the breach caused or contributed to the harm you suffered. This can sometimes be a complex legal and medical issue and is usually established through the testimony of medical experts, who can provide evidence on what the standard of care should have been in a particular situation.

Damages

To have a valid NHS misdiagnosis claim, you must have suffered damages such as pain, suffering and financial losses due to the breach of duty. Your injury lawyer will work closely with you and medical experts to gather and present evidence to support your claim. This could be in the form of medical reports, pay slips and other documents related to your expenses.

For an expert case assessment, call 0800 032 3660 or arrange a call back to speak to a legal adviser. They will have expert knowledge of medical negligence claims and can let you know if you are eligible to seek compensation for being misdiagnosed.

Can I claim for a delayed diagnosis?

Yes, you may be able to claim for a delayed diagnosis if you have suffered harm or injury due to the delay. A delayed diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment, which can worsen the outcome of your condition, make it more challenging to treat, or even lead to death in some cases.

Medical professionals have a legal obligation to provide a duty of care to patients across all illness types. Patients are protected by regulations and guidelines that are taught throughout the training and practice of medical staff. If there is a breach of this duty of care, you might be eligible to claim compensation for a delayed diagnosis.

To make a successful medical misdiagnosis claim, you will require proof that the delay in diagnosis was due to the negligence of the medical professionals involved in your care and that this caused you harm. You must also provide evidence to support your case, such as medical records and expert medical opinions.

Seeking compensation for a delayed diagnosis can be complex, so it is recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified solicitor who can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action.

How will misdiagnosis be confirmed?

When a patient is diagnosed with an illness that is not correct, they are likely to begin treatment which may be entirely inappropriate for their condition and could have detrimental effects on their health. Furthermore, your illness remains undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated, which can be catastrophic for your health.

If you suffered due to any type of medical negligence, you could be entitled to make a misdiagnosis claim. To build a strong case and negotiate the most favourable outcome on your behalf, your medical negligence solicitor will help gather evidence that supports your claim, such as:

  • A review of your medical history and records showing the investigations your doctor ordered and treatments you received
  • Seeking a second opinion from another medical professional can help confirm whether a misdiagnosis occurred
  • Additional testing, such as blood tests, X-rays, or biopsies, may be necessary to confirm or refute a diagnosis

To establish whether a misdiagnosis has taken place, your solicitor may also refer to the ‘Bolam Test’, which helps assess whether malpractice has occurred. The Bolam Test involves comparing your treatment with what other medical professionals consider reasonable and normal. If your solicitor can prove that other doctors would have made the correct diagnosis, you may have a strong case to secure compensation.

You can help support your misdiagnosis claim by providing any of the following:

  • Photographs showing the physical consequences of the misdiagnosis
  • Statements from friends or family who may be aware of your situation
  • Your notes about how your condition progressed and how it has affected your life
  • Any correspondence between you and your doctor or the hospital
  • Your appointment dates and outcomes, as well as subsequent investigation results
  • Financial documents for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to having been misdiagnosed

Providing this information will help your solicitor determine how your symptoms manifested, their timeline, and the extent of harm caused by the medical professional’s misdiagnosis.

Which illnesses and injuries are misdiagnosed the most?

There are lots of illnesses and injuries that can be misdiagnosed, depending on their type and complexity, the experience of the medical professional, and the accuracy of the tests used. It is essential to note that this can significantly impact the patient and lead to a medical misdiagnosis claim. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:

Cancer

Cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to detect cancer or mistakenly diagnoses cancer in a patient who does not have it. This can have serious consequences, as delayed treatment can lead to a significantly worse prognosis. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers affect the breast, lung, colon, pancreatic, and prostate.

Heart attack

Common heart attack symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, or back. In some cases, these may be mistaken for other less severe conditions, such as indigestion or muscle strain, leading to a delay in proper diagnosis and treatment. A missed diagnosis of a heart attack can be potentially life-threatening.

Stroke

Some symptoms that can be misdiagnosed as migraines, vertigo, or seizures include numbness or weakness (usually on one side of the body), confusion, dizziness, and severe headache. Fast recognition and treatment of a stroke is critical, as delays can lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but severe disorder caused by damage to the nerves at the end of the spinal cord, called the cauda equina. A missed diagnosis can lead to permanent nerve damage and disability. This could be due to failure to recognise the symptoms, incorrect interpretation of diagnostic tests, and misdiagnosis as another condition, such as a herniated disc.

Meningitis

Meningitis can sometimes be misdiagnosed, particularly in its early stages, as its symptoms can be similar to those of less severe illnesses, such as the flu or a common cold. This can cause a delay in treatment and lead to severe complications and even death.

Appendicitis

A missed diagnosis of appendicitis can result in serious complications, such as a burst appendix and peritonitis. Appendicitis can be misdiagnosed as gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, ovarian cysts, and inflammatory bowel disease. Doctors must perform a thorough physical examination and order appropriate tests to properly diagnose appendicitis and prevent complications.

Fractures

Fractures can sometimes be misdiagnosed or missed, especially if the fracture is moderate or in a location that is not easily visible on an X-ray or other imaging tests. This could be due to incomplete examination, incorrect interpretation of imaging results, and failure to order appropriate imaging tests. A misdiagnosed or untreated fracture can lead to long-term complications, such as chronic pain, disability, and arthritis.

Infections

Infections could be missed for various reasons, such as atypical presentation of symptoms, lack of diagnostic testing, or misinterpretation of test results. Common conditions that are misdiagnosed include urinary tract disorders, pneumonia, sepsis, and sexually transmitted infections. In some cases, a missed diagnosis can lead to delayed or inappropriate treatment, which can cause serious complications.

The consequences of a misdiagnosis can vary depending on the condition, the length of the delay in receiving a correct diagnosis, and the type of therapy that was administered incorrectly. In some cases, it can result in a delay in treatment, allowing the condition to worsen and potentially become life-threatening. In other cases, a misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary interventions or surgery, which can cause physical harm, emotional distress, and financial burden on the patient.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a misdiagnosed condition, you might be eligible to make an NHS misdiagnosis claim. To find out if you might be entitled to compensation, call 0800 032 3660 today for a free consultation with a legal adviser.

How do I make a misdiagnosis claim?

If you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of medical misdiagnosis, you may be able to claim compensation. Here are the general steps to take:

Contact a medical negligence solicitor

The first thing you should do is speak to a lawyer who has experience in medical misdiagnosis claims. They can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action and your chances of success.

Gather evidence

You will need to obtain copies of all medical records related to the misdiagnosis, including test results, scans, and any correspondence with healthcare professionals. If you have a valid NHS misdiagnosis claim, your solicitor will be able to help you gather everything you need to seek compensation.

Obtain an expert opinion

You may need to obtain an expert medical opinion from a doctor or healthcare professional in the same field as the doctor who made the misdiagnosis. They can evaluate your medical records and provide a professional view of whether or not the misdiagnosis was negligent.

Pre-action protocol

Once you have obtained all necessary evidence, your solicitor will contact the medical professional or hospital responsible for the misdiagnosis and present your case. This is known as the pre-action protocol.

Negotiations

If the medical professional or hospital admits liability for your wrong diagnosis, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement on your behalf. If liability is denied, they may advise you to take legal action in court.

Court proceedings

If the other side denies liability or negotiations are unsuccessful, you may need to argue your claim before a judge. Your solicitor will guide you through the legal process and represent you in court.

It is important to note that the process of making a misdiagnosis claim can be complex and time-consuming. Thus, it is essential to work with an experienced medical negligence solicitor who can guide you through the claims process and ensure that your rights are protected.

How much compensation will I be awarded?

The compensation awarded for an NHS misdiagnosis is judged on an individual basis. This is because cases can vary massively in terms of severity and impact. As such, it is crucial that your solicitor can demonstrate the level of impact and the seriousness of your injury and symptoms to secure the highest possible compensation.

In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, you may also receive money for financial losses and expenses. During your initial consultation, your solicitor will assess your case and provide an honest opinion about the likelihood of success and an estimated compensation amount.

The compensation for a wrong diagnosis is calculated by taking into account factors like:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reduced quality of life and life expectancy
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Lost wages or earning capacity
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Adaptations to your home and vehicle
  • Cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy

The compensation awarded for both general and special damages will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the severity of the harm caused by the misdiagnosis. A solicitor can help you understand what you may be entitled to claim and can work to secure the maximum compensation possible for your case. According to the Judicial College guidelines, you could receive the following:

  • £8,550 to £28,240 for scarring due to unnecessary surgery
  • £1,000 to £200,000 for pain and suffering
  • £8,110 to £281,520 for wrongful amputation of a body part
  • £52,390 to £380,000 for spinal cord injuries, depending on the severity
  • £8,180 to £100,670 for post-traumatic stress disorder, depending on the severity and recovery prospects

After evaluating your case, your solicitor will be able to give you a fair estimate of how much compensation you could be entitled to. For a free consultation, call 0800 032 3660 or request a call back today.

How long do I have to make a misdiagnosis claim?

The time limit to make a misdiagnosis claim is usually within three years from the date of the incident. This is typically known as the date of knowledge and refers to the moment you knew or ought reasonably to have known the following three things:

  • That you have suffered harm or injury
  • That this was due to the negligence of a medical professional
  • The identity of the medical professional or the medical facility responsible for the missed diagnosis

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as:

  • If a child has been misdiagnosed, the three-year limitation period does not begin until their 18th birthday. Before that, a parent or legal guardian could seek compensation on their behalf at any time by acting as their litigation friend.
  • If the person affected by the medical negligence is deemed mentally incapacitated at the time of the negligence, the three-year limitation period does not begin until they regain capacity. In the meantime, a litigation friend could claim on their behalf.
  • If you lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis, the time limit to start a claim is three years from the date of death. Alternatively, the three-year time limit could start from the date you first knew or could reasonably have known about the cause of death.
  • If you received a wrong diagnosis abroad, the time limit to claim might be shorter than in the UK, so you should speak to a solicitor specialising in international personal injury claims as quickly as possible.

In any case, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe you have a valid claim, as delays can impact the ability to gather evidence and build a strong case.

Can I sue the NHS for misdiagnosis?

Yes, it is possible to sue the NHS for misdiagnosis if you believe that the medical care you received fell below the acceptable standard and caused you harm. However, making an NHS misdiagnosis claim can be complex, so it is vital to seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor who can provide support and advice at every step of the process on a no win no fee basis.

The NHS has a duty to provide medical care that meets specific standards, but this does not mean they can guarantee a positive outcome for every patient. Therefore, you must establish that the misdiagnosis was due to negligence rather than an unfortunate medical result. This can involve obtaining medical evidence to support your claim and proving that the healthcare professional’s actions were unreasonable and they failed to follow the accepted medical practice.

You may worry that making an NHS misdiagnosis claim would negatively affect their budget. However, that is not the case, and seeking compensation from the NHS will not impact their funds at all. This is because all medical misdiagnosis claims against the NHS are handled by their own specialist insurance company, NHS Resolution. Every Trust pays a yearly premium to NHS Resolution, which manages a fund that is available to address any patient misdiagnosis claims against the NHS.

Can I make a medical misdiagnosis claim for someone else?

Yes, you can claim on behalf of someone else if they cannot start legal proceedings themselves due to physical or mental incapacity or if they are a child. In this case, you would act as their litigation friend and claim on their behalf.

You would need to obtain the necessary legal authority to act as their litigation friend, which typically involves applying to the court and proving that:

  • You are capable of fairly and competently representing the injured person
  • You do not have any conflicting interests with them

The court will appoint you as the litigation friend and give you the power to manage the legal proceedings on behalf of the person you represent. This brings with it several duties and responsibilities, such as:

  • To act in the claimant’s best interests
  • Take into account their wishes, feelings and beliefs
  • Provide instructions to solicitors
  • Attend court hearings
  • Manage the claimant’s finances
  • Pay any fees requested by the court
  • Keep the claimant informed about the progress of the case
  • Carefully consider any compensation offers

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, certain family members are also entitled to claim compensation for losing a loved one due to a missed diagnosis. This can include the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, and in some cases, siblings.

Compensation for wrongful death is typically divided into two categories: financial losses and bereavement damages. Financial losses can include loss of income, funeral expenses, and the cost of any medical treatment the deceased received before their death.

The amount of bereavement damages is fixed at £15,120 and aims to recognise the grief and suffering of the surviving family members. This compensation is only available to the spouse or parents of the deceased person and not to other family members or dependents.

If you want to start a misdiagnosis claim or learn more about your legal rights, call 0800 032 3660 today for a free consultation with an experienced legal adviser. Alternatively, you can use the contact form below to receive a call back, with no obligation to proceed.