Delays in providing appropriate medical care can impact whether, and how quickly, you can make a recovery. Not only can this have significant consequences for your health and lifestyle, but it can often lead to financial repercussions. If you have been subject to a delay in diagnosis due to medical negligence, please read on to learn more about your rights and do contact our friendly team of specialist solicitors to discuss your potential claim.
What is delayed diagnosis?
If a medical professional initially overlooks or ignores a patient’s symptoms and fails to investigate further, they may not diagnose the condition or illness until it has advanced to a more severe stage. This is known as a delayed diagnosis. As a result of a late diagnosis, the patient may experience unnecessary suffering and more severe or long-lasting consequences, whether physical, psychological and/or financial.
Can you claim for delayed diagnosis?
Yes, if you have been impacted by a medical professional’s late diagnosis of your condition, then you could bring a delayed diagnosis claim. Read on to learn more about what constitutes a delayed diagnosis and examples of when this can happen.
How do claims for delayed diagnosis compensation arise?
A delay in diagnosis claim arises from medical negligence. For example:
- You may well feel that your GP, or a hospital doctor, has not taken your complaints seriously and has not acted quickly enough.
- You had to wait too long to get an appointment with a medical professional, leading to late diagnosis.
- Your injuries were overlooked in A&E - you were waiting to be seen for a long time or were discharged when in fact you needed urgent care.
- Your GP, doctor or nurse assumed your symptoms were consistent with a different illness, allowing your true condition to worsen.
- Your symptoms were completely missed by a medical professional.
- Your test results were incorrectly analysed or not responded to promptly and/or appropriately.
- You were not referred to a specialist medical professional or admitted to a hospital or specialist care unit at the right time.
- Your surgery was delayed due to administration mistakes or an oversight regarding scheduling.
Examples of conditions which may be diagnosed late
Delayed diagnosis can occur in numerous medical conditions, for example:
- Cancer Claims
Cancer can be overlooked as your symptoms may look like another condition, especially in the early stages. Or, a GP may misinterpret test results or fail to promptly refer you to a specialist. For example, in regard to prostate cancer, a GP may fail to act upon raised PSA levels and delay referring you to a Urologist. Our client won £608,500 for delayed diagnosis of breast cancer after her GP misdiagnosed pain, itchiness and lumpiness around the nipple as ‘fibroadenotic’ breasts, and failed to refer her for further examination. According to a Cancer Research UK study, one in four cancer patients experienced an avoidable delay in diagnosis, with data showing that almost 50% of the patients were delayed while being assessed by their GP surgery.
- Sepsis Claims
If the symptoms of sepsis are not recognised quickly by a medical professional, the patient can experience severe consequences, from organ dysfunction to septic shock and even death. Sepsis may be wrongly diagnosed as a bad flu or a chest infection. Our client tragically lost his wife, aged 56, after medics failed to diagnose her appendicitis, leading to blood poisoning (‘septicaemia’).
- Meningitis Claims
Meningitis symptoms can overlap with less serious conditions, such as strep throat, and are harder to identify in children and infants. If meningitis is not spotted and treated urgently, it can lead permanent, devastating injuries, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or even death.
- Retinal Detachment Claims
If your doctor fails to diagnose retinal detachment, the tear can worsen and you may experience a temporary or permanent loss of sight. Our client received £46,000 in compensation after a specialist misdiagnosed his retinal detachment, leading to a 17-day delay in surgical repair.
- Compartment Syndrome Claims
Compartment syndrome (swelling or bleeding within a compartment of your leg, arm or abdomen) can lead to permanent muscle damage or amputation if not treated quickly. We helped our client win £299,000 after a delayed diagnosis of compartment syndrome left him with nerve injury, mobility issues, foot drop and depression.
- Amputation Claims
If a medical professional fails to recognise a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), for example, this may lead to avoidable amputation. Our 89-year-old client received £150,000 in compensation after his GP paid him a home visit for sudden onset of pain behind the knee, but failed to refer him to a hospital. This delay in diagnosis led to an above-knee amputation.
How much compensation is awarded for delayed diagnosis?
The value of delayed diagnosis compensation is completely case-dependent, and varies based on the condition that was misdiagnosed or overlooked, the severity of your injuries, and the impact on your health, wellbeing, finances and lifestyle. The impact on your family will also be considered if they are financially dependent upon you, or if you rely upon them for care and support at home after your injury.
- Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity (General Damages)
General Damages cover the physical and psychological impact of your injuries. For example, you may have been in pain and suffering from your condition or illness for longer than would have been necessary, had the diagnosis been prompt. What’s more, you may have had a more strenuous treatment and/or recovery if your condition had advanced by the time you were accurately diagnosed or referred.
On top of this, psychological impacts are considered. A delay in diagnosis can understandably cause anxiety, and if your independence and lifestyle is impacted, you may experience depression.
Loss of Amenity refers to changes in your lifestyle and a reduced quality of life due to your injuries. For example, if a delayed diagnosis resulted in avoidable amputation of the leg, you may no longer be able to enjoy playing your favourite sport or going on walking holidays that you previously loved to do.
- Financial Losses
A delay in diagnosis claim can impact your financial health, and this must be considered when calculating the value of your compensation. A specialist delayed diagnosis solicitor will ensure that every possible factor is considered when it comes to quantifying the true value of your claim.
Your past and future financial losses will be taken into account. For example, a delayed diagnosis may lead you to take long-term sick leave and may impact your ability to continue doing your job in the future. If your job relied on your ability to drive and a delayed retinal detachment diagnosis left you with sight loss, this would impact your future earnings as you can no longer continue in your line of work. If your family relies on your income, this will also be considered.
On top of your earnings, your additional financial expenses will be factored into a delayed diagnosis claim. Examples include:
- Extra care at home, whether from a family member, friend or professional
- Specialist equipment and adaptations to your home and/or vehicle to make them more accessible
- Therapy for the psychological impact of your late diagnosis
- Additional medical treatment, rehabilitation and specialist care
- Travel expenses to attend these appointments
If you're not sure where to go for advice, we have a range of guides available whether you need emotional, practical or financial support on your claim.
What is the time limit for a delayed diagnosis claim?
As with all medical negligence claims, there is a three-year time limit. This is three years from the date of your negligent treatment, or from the date where you realised your treatment was negligent. If you are concerned about the time limit for your delayed diagnosis claim, please contact us. We do not automatically dismiss claims for being close to or past expiry, and will help you decide on the best course of action. The Court has a limited discretion to allow cases to continue outside of the time limit in special circumstances, and there are exceptions for cases involving death, children, or those who have a mental disability or brain injury.
Successful Delayed Diagnosis Claims
The following are just a few examples of successful past legal claims for delayed diagnosis compensation conducted by our Director, Caroline Moore:
£180,000 for a gentleman who suffered a delay in diagnosing a flare up of vasculitic disease (associated with Wegeners Granulomatosis). His creatinine levels rose dangerously high whilst in hospital and the delay led to permanent damage to both of his kidneys, necessitating permanent dialysis, unless he could have a liver and kidney transplant.
- £100,000 to a 61-year-old lady who attended an A&E Department, on two separate occasions. She had been complaining of feeling unwell, with back pain. On the second occasion, blood results were done and were grossly abnormal, but were not checked. She was allowed to leave A&E without further investigations, and deteriorated quickly. Had the results been checked, she should have been admitted and given intravenous antibiotics, in which case she should have recovered within a few weeks. As it was, she was found in a state of collapse at home, later had to undergo resuscitation, suffered kidney failure and had to be intubated and given intensive care, owing to overwhelming infection. She spent months in hospital.
- £45,000 for a nurse, from Southampton, who ruptured her Achilles tendon whilst at work tripping over a box. There was no claim against the employer hospital, but their A&E Department did fail to accurately diagnose the injury, leading to an 18-month delay in reconstructive surgery taking place. She was left with permanent weakness and reduced mobility but was able to return to work in a less strenuous post.
- £15,000 for a young man, from Liverpool, whose ankle injury was not diagnosed in A&E, leading to a delay in surgical treatment. He made a good recovery, apart from being permanently unable to run any more than ½ mile and had to give up high impact sports. Had he relied upon his sport for a living, then his case would have attracted a much higher level of compensation as there would have been some future loss of earnings to consider and include in his claim.
Talk to our Delayed Diagnosis Solicitors
Delayed diagnosis claims are a very common reason for patients to contact us. So, if you do need specialist legal advice on delayed diagnosis claims, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team today.
We offer a free initial assessment and conduct most of our Clinical and Medical Negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. This means you do not have to worry about paying for the cost of delayed diagnosis claims and have nothing to lose in speaking to us.
We understand how distressing a delayed diagnosis can be, and are here to support you through this challenging time. We leave no stone unturned and endeavour to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
For further support and advice, please take a look at our delayed diagnosis support guide.
Please Note: Medical Solicitors specialise in delayed diagnosis claims involving healthcare providers in England and Wales and will be happy to extend a helping hand if your case is located in either of these regions. Unfortunately, we do not handle delayed diagnosis claims outside of England and Wales.