When we are feeling unwell, or our bodies are exhibiting symptoms that give us cause for concern, we would normally make an appointment to go see our GP. We have to put our trust in health care professionals, and expect any medical conditions to be properly diagnosed.
The NHS: free health care for all
The NHS provides free state-funded health care to residents of the UK, which means that any required medical care is available to all regardless of how much they earn, and we expect the health care professionals that work within the NHS to be highly skilled at what they do.
There aren’t many countries around the world that offer such a service; you only have to go across the pond (i.e. to the United States) to discover that, for the most part, you have to be covered by medical insurance before you can be seen by a physician, as the majority of doctor’s surgeries and hospitals are privately owned!
Sometimes things can go wrong in the NHS
We also expect these medical professionals to be experts at what they do, and to provide a high level of service and care. And although, for the most part, the service we receive is of a high standard, as with any organisation there can sometimes be failings in those expected levels of service.
In the media, you will often hear about NHS trusts that have really let down patients and their families, such as the ongoing saga with Stafford Hospital. One of the most serious cases of medical negligence that a health care professional such as a doctor can make is misdiagnosing a patient’s symptoms or conditions.
These seemingly simple mistakes can open up a whole can of worms, particularly if a condition was misdiagnosed, and the patient died because of this error.
Types of medical misdiagnosis
A medical misdiagnosis can be categorised into three separate areas, as follows:
Undiagnosed conditions – this is where conditions in a patient go undiagnosed for a long period of time, despite the patient seeing a GP or doctors in a hospital numerous times regarding its symptoms;
Late diagnosis – medical conditions (such as cancer) are diagnosed late, resulting in extended recovery times or in some extreme cases resulting in conditions being considered terminal;
Incorrect diagnosis – this is where a health care professional incorrectly diagnosed your condition. For example, a pregnant woman being told she has had an ectopic pregnancy even though she is actually experiencing a normal pregnancy.
How to claim compensation
If you feel that you have been misdiagnosed, and it has had a severe and detrimental impact to your life and the lives of those closest to you, then you may be eligible for compensation. For example, you could consider claiming compensation for a misdiagnosed eye condition, or undiagnosed cancer despite your doctors telling you that there was nothing wrong with your body.
There are many ways that you can approach the subject, but your first port of call should be with a legal advisor such as a solicitor or a firm that offers to take your case on a “no win, no fee” basis. It is important that you look into claiming compensation sooner rather than later, as there is often a time limit of when you can claim for compensation (depending on the condition and type of misdiagnosis).