Can I Sue the NHS for Misdiagnosis?

Author:
Geoffrey Simpson-Scott
Partner, Medical Negligence Solicitor
Date:
08/07/2019

If you suspect that your misdiagnosis could have been prevented, then you may have a claim for medical negligence compensation.

A misdiagnosis is the incorrect identification of the nature of an illness or other medical condition after your symptoms have been examined. As with any error, they can be accidental, justifiable or arise from negligent treatment.

For more information on making a claim for a misdiagnosis, get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors. Ask if we can deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis, or if you qualify for Legal Aid.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

How Does Misdiagnosis Occur?

In most cases, a medical misdiagnosis arises from:

      • A delay in making the correct diagnosis
      • Making an incorrect diagnosis from the correct information
      • Misreading or not fully understanding the test results
      • Jumping to the wrong conclusion before all of the evidence is in
      • Not listening properly to the patient; or
      • Failing to recognise that the diagnosis does not fully explain the patient’s symptoms.

In many cases, you’ll have sought medical advice because you suspect that something is wrong or you feel unwell. Although you may have a general idea of what’s wrong, you need professional advice from a doctor. This will initially be from your GP, dentist, nurse or paramedic, depending on your symptoms.

These clinicians will usually ask you about your symptoms and medical history, examine you, perform or refer you for tests, and provide you with a preliminary opinion on what your condition may be. Sometimes, there will be several alternatives and these are called ‘differential diagnoses’.

Since the human body is complex, the explanations for what makes us sick aren’t always straightforward. The investigations can take time and involve a process of elimination and referral to more than one specialist, or result in subtle or even seemingly contradictory results. Once a diagnosis has been made, than effective treatment can begin.

Your treating medical team should approach each step in investigating your illness professionally, logically and by applying recognised standards. When this isn’t done, a misdiagnosis is far more likely to occur and result in avoidable harm to you.

You can help to prevent a possible misdiagnosis by giving clear details of your previous medical history, your symptoms and any medication you are taking.

Can I Claim for Compensation?

In order to make a successful medical negligence claim, the error must fall below an acceptable standard of care. The legal test for this is strict and requires that the clinical decision-making isn’t supported by a reasonable group of medical opinion.

In many cases, the complexity of the medicine involved raises the possibility that legitimate differences of opinion exist in your case. If so, then you require expert advice from a Medical Negligence Solicitor in order to win.

Once you’ve been able to prove this, you then need to demonstrate that you’ve suffered an avoidable injury as a result of the clinical error made. In order to do so, you need to be able to accurately distinguish between the effects of your underlying illness and how it would have progressed had no error occurred. This often requires very careful preparation on the part of your Medical Negligence Solicitor in order to secure the correct amount for compensation for you.

Conclusion

As with any medical condition, it’s important not to jump to the wrong conclusion. Doctors are highly trained and cases of medical negligence are rare - we do not have a ‘compensation culture’ in the UK. However, things do sometimes go wrong, and you should be prepared for this.

In those circumstances, it may be appropriate to seek compensation after trying the official NHS Complaints Procedure. Our Medical Negligence Solicitors can guide you through the NHS complaints process, and if we can take on your case, we may be able to work on a No Win, No Fee basis. Alternatively, Legal Aid funding may be available to help you with the legal costs involved in investigating and pursuing a claim for compensation.

If you require additional information, then please contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors and we’ll be happy to help you.

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