If a medical misdiagnosis injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a medical misdiagnosis, we can help. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
In 2018, the NHS paid out compensation to 1,100 patients or families for medical conditions that were either not identified or detected too late. 679 were misdiagnosed, and around one in ten of those payouts went to patients whose cancer had been misdiagnosed.
Misdiagnosis is the basis of one of the most common types of clinical and medical negligence compensation claim. Three categories of medical misdiagnosis are identified: total misdiagnosis, incorrect diagnosis and late diagnosis.
If you decide to make a medical misdiagnosis claim, your medical negligence solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Claims for total misdiagnosis
Total or missed misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails to identify the symptoms of a health condition or illness. Without crucial treatment, the condition may develop to a more advanced stage, impacting the patient's treatment, prognosis and recovery time.
Claiming for an incorrect diagnosis
Incorrect diagnosis occurs when a medical professional wrongly diagnoses an illness or condition, which may cause the patient to undergo an unnecessary medical procedure. For example, a patient wrongly diagnosed with cancer may receive needless chemotherapy or have an organ or tissue removed.
Other problems may arise when patients are given the incorrect diagnosis. If their true condition is allowed to progress unchecked, the patient may require more invasive treatment when the condition is eventually uncovered. Some patients may also experience a severe psychological reaction to the mistaken belief that they have a serious illness.
Claiming for a late diagnosis
Late diagnosis, also known as delayed diagnosis, occurs when opportunities for diagnosis are missed and the medical professional only realises the true nature of an illness or condition when it is at an advanced stage. Mistakes of this kind can increase the pain and discomfort of the patient, prolong the recovery period and in serious cases, reduce the patient's life expectancy.
Why does medical misdiagnosis occur?
Misdiagnosis occurs for a number of reasons, including:
- Healthcare professionals failing to adequately investigate the symptoms of serious illness
- Doctors failing to perform the correct tests
- GP negligence
- The GP having inadequate expertise with a particular type of healthcare condition
- Errors by junior medical staff due to a lack of supervision
- Misinterpretation of test results such as CT scans, MRI scans, X-rays, biopsies, smears and tissue samples.
Compensation awards are calculated by reference to the injuries that are sustained and the impact these injuries have had on a claimant's life, rather than the context or cause of the medical misdiagnosis.
For the purposes of a misdiagnosis claim, however, the reason for the misdiagnosis does matter. It must be shown that the misdiagnosis caused or exacerbated the patient's illness or condition, and that the misdiagnosis itself occurred as a result of the healthcare professional's act or negligence.
Who can make a claim?
Any person who has experienced more pain and suffering than would have been caused by their illness if it had been treated correctly, as a result of a medical professional's misdiagnosis, may be eligible to claim compensation.
Precise time limits are place for making a misdiagnosis compensation claim. A claim must be made within three years of either the date the misdiagnosis occurred, or the date a link is discovered between the misdiagnosis and the patient's injuries or worsening health condition.
Some claimants may experience a significant delay between the time they first see their doctor and the time that the symptoms of the medical misdiagnosis begin to make themselves felt.
Who can you make a misdiagnosis claim against?
Claims are usually brought against a hospital or GP surgery.
For treatment and consultation carried out in an NHS hospital, the defendant is the relevant NHS Trust. In the case of a private consultant, the claim usually is brought against the consultant personally and his or her insurance company.
Is the medical professional liable?
To successfully pursue a claim for medical misdiagnosis, the claimant's solicitor will need to establish breach of duty on the part of the healthcare professional, also known as negligence. Negligence occurs when the standard of care received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent medical professional in the same field.
The claimant's solicitor must also show that the treatment received (or lack of treatment) caused the claimant further injury, pain or suffering. This is known as causation.
While undesirable, not all misdiagnosis claims will result in a payment of compensation. For example, a Court may not award compensation to a patient who received a late diagnosis but whose condition did not get any worse in the intervening period. In this scenario, there is no evidence that an earlier diagnosis would have changed the treatment options or led to a better outcome.
Am I eligible for medical misdiagnosis compensation?
You have the right to claim compensation if the care you received did not meet the appropriate standard of care, and you were injured by this negligent treatment.
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
How long do I have to make a medical misdiagnosis claim?
You usually have 3 years to make a medical misdiagnosis claim, from the date you learned you were harmed by the substandard care (the date of knowledge).
For an injured child, the three-year limitation period begins on their 18th birthday, giving them until they are 21 to start a medical negligence claim.
How much compensation can I claim for a medical Misdiagnosis?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, special damages can be awarded for any lost earnings, loss of commission or bonuses, and loss of pension contributions. It may also be possible to claim for loss of future earnings, if the medical prognosis establishes that you won't be able to work for any period in the future.
These damages will also cover the cost of any medical procedures you might need to treat or recover from your injury such as corrective treatment and psychological support.
Clinical negligence claims
Medical misdiagnosis injuries are usually categorised as clinical negligence. Click on the icon below for more information.
How we can help you with your medical negligence claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.