This is perhaps the concern we, as specialist medical accident lawyers, hear most often - when an illness or condition has been missed by a doctor or surgeon.
Clinicians are trained to follow lines of enquiry and seek a diagnosis that best fits the symptoms presented to them. All medical students are reminded towards the end of their studies that patients do still get measles, nettle rash, and sore throat … as well as scarlet fever, mercury poisoning and thyroid cancer. In other words, doctors should beware of jumping to the worst or most dramatic conclusions to fit available evidence.
A diagnosis which is wrong, but which followed on from careful and proper enquiry, and which was a mistake that a reasonable clinician could have made, is unlikely to be negligent.
On the other hand, to miss something blatantly obvious, particularly after prolonged dismissal of the patient’s concerns, or where the clinician has patently not taken on board clear warning signs, could well be negligent and give rise to legal liability.
Concern about failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis often arises with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer. It can be extremely distressing for a patient to be told belatedly of such an illness; with the concern that had it been discovered earlier, treatment could have been started much sooner and the chances for recovery might perhaps have been much better.
In misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose cases, a careful and objective review of the clinical history by a specialist medical accident lawyer is the first step to bringing a compensation claim.
Among the legal issues that will need to be investigated is the extent to which the error in diagnosis has resulted in the patient's medical condition being made worse than it would otherwise hjave been. this often requires input from a medical expert and we have links to some of the nation's most experienced experts.