A Guide to Claiming Appendicitis Misdiagnosis Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a missed appendicitis diagnosis we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a missed appendicitis diagnosis and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
According to the NHS, 40,000 people are admitted to hospital in England with appendicitis each year. In treating the condition, prompt removal of the appendix is usually recommended because any delay can lead to complications.
Many of the symptoms of appendicitis are typical of a number of abdominal disorders. A doctor may therefore miss or misdiagnose the condition.
Failing to correctly diagnose appendicitis in the first instance does not necessarily mean your GP was negligent - your symptoms and medical history may have made another diagnosis more reasonable.
However, in cases where another medical practitioner would have made a correct diagnosis of appendicitis but your doctor did not, it may be possible to make a claim for clinical negligence.
Do I have an appendicitis misdiagnosis claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:
- there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
- the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.
To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an appendicitis misdiagnosis claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
Is compensation always payable?
If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".
Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.
Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
How is appendicitis misdiagnosed?
In order to make a correct diagnosis, a doctor must identify the symptoms presented as appendicitis. This is not always easy. Appendicitis can be confused with a range of other disorders such as gastroenteritis, severe irritable syndrome (IBS), constipation, bladder and urine infections, Crohns disease and, for women, menstrual pain.
What are the recognised symptoms of appendicitis?
A painful swelling of the appendix caused by a blockage at the entrance, appendicitis typically begins with intermittent pain in the middle abdomen. As it progresses the pain usually travels to the lower right hand side - the site of the appendix - becoming constant and severe.
In addition, the pain may become worse when pressed or when running or coughing.
Other common symptoms of appendicitis include:
- Loss of appetite
If a person presents with abdominal pain combined with any of the other symptoms, a doctor should carry out a proper assessment. As well as taking a history of any symptoms, they should also examine the abdomen to look for any rigidity or tenderness. For further confirmation, blood, urine and imaging tests can also be carried out.
What are the repercussions of a misdiagnosis?
If a doctor misses appendicitis, the repercussions for the individual affected can be serious.
Not only can it lead to prolonged pain and suffering but, if not removed, the appendix can burst. This can lead to dangerous infections such as peritonitis or an abscess which may need to drained.
Pursuing a claim for medical negligence
In order to be compensated for their pain and suffering, both financially and psychologically, an individual with an appendicitis misdiagnosis can pursue a claim for compensation.
What are the duties of a doctor?
All doctors have a legal duty to make the care of their patient their first concern. Set out by the General Medical Council, this ensures they provide a good standard of practice and care and keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Included in this is a duty to give a correct diagnosis, as is reasonable, given all the information and symptoms at hand.
Identifying medical negligence
In cases where a doctor fails to recognise appendicitis as a possible cause of the symptoms - for example by not asking the right questions or carrying out sufficient testing to rule out other possible illnesses - their actions may be deemed negligent. The distinction between a reasonable mistake and negligence can be nuanced, and will depend on the facts of the case.
How can negligence be proven?
Pursuing a misdiagnosis claim may not be as straightforward as some other areas of personal injury. Cases of this kind are often fiercely defended by legal and medical experts. A solicitor will arrange an independent medical report and can advise a claimant on the types of evidence needed to prove a missed appendicitis diagnosis in order to give the best chance of a successful outcome.
The amount of money you could claim for your appendicitis misdiagnosis will depend on:
- the extent 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 appendicitis misdiagnosis has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
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.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an appendicitis misdiagnosis? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an appendicitis misdiagnosis claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an appendicitis misdiagnosis will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your appendicitis misdiagnosis compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Should I set up a personal injury trust?
If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following an appendicitis misdiagnosis injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?
Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.
Appendicitis misdiagnosis compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an appendicitis misdiagnosis injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your appendicitis misdiagnosis claim could be worth now:
How long does a missed appendicitis diagnosis claim take?
How long it can take to settle a missed appendicitis diagnosis claim can vary considerably.
A simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. If the cases is particularly complex, a compensation claim can take considerably longer. Normally a medical negligence claim will take 12 to 36 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for an appendicitis misdiagnosis after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your appendicitis misdiagnosis claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee takes all of the risk out of making an appendicitis misdiagnosis claim. If you don't win your claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your appendicitis misdiagnosis injury.
What do I pay if I win my appendicitis misdiagnosis claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my appendicitis misdiagnosis claim?
If your appendicitis misdiagnosis claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:Call me back
if you can claim
to start a claim
Appendicitis misdiagnosis FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert