With good reason, we all put our confidence in medical professionals when we are feeling ill, trusting that they will diagnose us correctly. Most people are not well-informed about their bodies, therefore, seeing a doctor is the best way to understand what is wrong or why they have certain symptoms. However, sometimes doctors can be wrong and illnesses can be misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed altogether. Patients and family members who have been affected by this can go on to make a compensation claim.
Misdiagnosis is a complicated and disputed subject. For example, in most patients, a cough usually means nothing more than a common cold. However, if a cough gets more persistent, we will go to the doctor and perhaps be treated for a chest infection. Yet for some people, a persistent cough can be a symptom of more sinister illnesses and it is a doctor's responsibility to know when to send a patient for further tests.
For a number of people, doctors fail to see these symptoms which leads to them being undiagnosed or diagnosed much later than they should have been. The second form of misdiagnosis refers to when a patient is diagnosed with the wrong illness. An example of this is if a doctor informs a patient they have a cancerous lung tumour which results in them having an operation to remove part of their lung. If they find out later that the tumour was benign, the operation was unnecessary and this is classed as misdiagnosis. The patient has lost part of their lung for no reason and can make a compensation claim because of this.
Misdiagnosis can be a traumatic experience for patients and their loved ones. This is especially true if a patient has repeatedly returned to their doctor and been sent away, if they have been told they are anxious about nothing or if their doctor has missed a vital sign of serious illness. In some cases, misdiagnosis can even lead to the death of a patient. The issue for a misdiagnosis compensation claim lies in whether the patient would have benefited from earlier referral or treatment for their illness. Could a sooner analysis have resulted in a patient recovering more quickly?
English law states that earlier treatment needs to have had a better than 50% chance of succeeding. This rule can lead to unsatisfactory results as the probability of success rates is a disputed subject. Doctors would start treatment for diseases, such as cancer, even if there was a lower than 50% chance of the treatment being a success, so the rule seems unfair. However having said this, many patients do make successful claims due to misdiagnosis.
Claims for various illnesses and medical issues can differ, so it is important to contact the right people in relation to your claim. Negligence is a subject that affects many people and misdiagnosis can be the difference between life and death.