Delayed or missed diagnosis by a doctor – what can I do?
For the most part, doctors and health professionals do an excellent job and perform to high standards of care and treatment. However, on occasions patients can find that that their condition is misdiagnosed, or there is an unacceptable delay in getting the correct diagnosis and treatment in place.
Problems that occur
Conditions such as bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening, and early correct diagnosis is vital. If a medical professional fails to spot the symptoms of meningitis, it could lead to severe complications. If this were the case, you could make a claim for missed diagnosis.
Delays in diagnosing cancer can have a major impact on a patient’s prognosis. They can arise where the doctor fails to arrange tests or further examinations for the patient, or where X-rays or test results are misread or misinterpreted.
Sadly, in some cases delays can occur even if the patient has been referred appropriately. Test results can go astray, administrative errors can occur, and follow-up treatment can be delayed.
You can be considered to have received a missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis if your doctor:
- failed to diagnose what your medical problem was and as a result, you suffered a deterioration in your health or mental well-being
- prescribed incorrect or unsuitable medication or a course of treatment based on their incorrect diagnosis and this affected your health
- delayed diagnosing your condition, and due to the delay, your condition deteriorated.
A successful claim will depend upon being able to demonstrate that you were misdiagnosed due to medical negligence, and that this negligence resulted in injury, suffering and financial hardship on your part.
Getting your case examined
Whether you are being treated by the NHS or privately, you have the right to:
- make a complaint and have it dealt with efficiently and in full
- be informed as to the outcome of any investigation
- take your case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
- be compensated if you’ve been harmed through an act of negligence.
If you’re thinking of making a complaint about the medical treatment you did or didn’t receive, then in the first instance you should raise it with your GP. You may also find it helpful to obtain a copy of your medical records.