Medical negligence claims – Delayed diagnosis

When a doctor’s failure to diagnose a health problem causes you harm, this is a breach of their duty of care to you as a patient.

If your condition, injury or illness could and should have been diagnosed earlier, or if it was missed completely, it is your right as the patient, or the patient’s family, to make a claim for compensation.

Medical negligence claims are complex and governed by strict time limits, so it’s important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe you have suffered as a result of a diagnosis failure or delay.

Contact Wellers Law Group for a free, no-obligation first meeting so that we can listen to your circumstances and make an assessment as to whether your claim is likely to succeed.

Contact our medical negligence team by filling in our quick enquiry form.

Failure to diagnose and medical negligence

Medical negligence may occur if a patient suffering from an injury or condition makes repeated visits to a GP or hospital clinic to describe their symptoms but clinicians fail to diagnose the cause.

Failure to diagnose can also occur in a trauma setting. For example, if a person attends hospital after a fall and hospital staff fail to organise the appropriate X-rays or scans, this could lead to the patient being discharged without treatment for potentially life-changing injuries.

Delayed diagnosis – What does it mean?

Certain conditions and illnesses, for example, cancer, internal injury, and sepsis, need to be investigated and followed up quickly because delayed diagnosis can prove fatal or life-changing, and late diagnosis could prolong a patient’s recovery period or reduce their life expectancy.

If early diagnosis and treatment would have prevented the patient’s death or suffering, there may be a medical negligence case to be answered.

Reasons behind delayed and failed diagnoses

When a doctor, GP or other clinician does not recognise or act upon the signs and symptoms of illnesses and conditions, these errors can cause severe implications for the patient.

The failures may come about as a result of:

  • Clinical diagnostic errors – such as failure to take a full medical history, disregarding patient complaints, and failing to investigate patient symptoms.
  • Pathology errors – such as incorrect handling and/or analysis of blood, tissue and urine samples or the misreading of results.
  • Medical imaging errors – such as failing to scan the correct body part or the misreading of CT scans, X-rays, and MRI images.

Proving a failure to diagnose case

Proving that a doctor or healthcare practitioner has been negligent can be difficult and complex. For a court to decide that a doctor was negligent, they must decide whether other competent doctors in a similar field of medical expertise would have acted in the same way. In cases of failure to diagnose and late diagnosis, if a court finds that lots of other doctors would have failed to diagnose the illness or injury in the same way, the doctor may not be found to have been negligent.

Lastly, a delayed diagnosis medical negligence case will only have merit if the patient suffered harm. So, if the late diagnosis of your illness made no difference to your outcomes and you suffered no further harm i.e. extra loss of earnings or increased pain and suffering as a direct result of the delay, then your claim might not be successful.

Talk to Wellers Law medical negligence lawyers today

If you believe you have suffered harm as a result of medical negligence, including delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis and delayed treatment, we can help you understand whether you have a claim.

Contact the medical negligence lawyers at Wellers Law Group on 0208 290 7958 and or email