Can I make a medical negligence claim for a misdiagnosis?

Quick answer

Yes, you can make a Medical Negligence claim for misdiagnosis if a medical professional incorrectly diagnoses your illness or condition. This also includes cases where your diagnosis is unreasonably delayed or a doctor fails to diagnose your condition entirely.

A successful claim requires proof that your medical professional acted negligently and that you were injured as a result. If a similar medical professional would not have made the same mistake, it’s likely your medical professional was negligent.

In depth answer

It is possible to make a misdiagnosis claim against any registered medical professional, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Surgeons
  • General Practitioners (GPs)
  • Specialists
  • Dentists
  • Oncologists.

To make a claim, you must meet the 3 criteria for proving Medical Negligence.

How to prove Medical Negligence

To prove Medical Negligence, you need to show that:

  1. The medical professional owed you a duty of care, and
  2. They breached that duty of care by misdiagnosing you, and
  3. You have suffered harm or injury due to the misdiagnosis.

All 3 criteria must be met for a successful misdiagnosis claim.

1. Duty of care

Duty of care is a relationship where one person is expected to act with regard to the care and safety of another. This is because they have special skills or hold a trusted position in society. Many of the most common ‘duty of care’ relationships relate to medical professionals, including doctor/patient and hospital/patient.

If you were seen or treated by a licensed medical professional, they likely owed you a duty of care.

2. Breach of duty of care

After establishing a duty of care, you must show that your medical professional breached their duty. This could be through an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a failure to diagnose.

Delayed diagnosis occurs when a medical professional does not diagnose your condition within a reasonable period. In contrast, a failure to diagnose means your doctor completely misses your diagnosis. This includes situations where they correctly diagnose one illness but fail to diagnose another.

Misdiagnosis does not automatically mean the medical professional breached their duty of care. You must demonstrate that another medical professional with similar training would not have made the same mistake.

If your doctor’s actions are accepted by their wider professional community, making a Medical Negligence case for misdiagnosis will be more challenging.

3. Harm or injury

The misdiagnosis must have caused you harm.

‘Harm’ can mean a physical injury or illness, but can also refer to a negative outcome. For example, you may have a Medical Negligence claim if another treatment would have had a better result or an earlier diagnosis would have impacted your life expectancy. On the other hand, if a proper diagnosis would not have led to a better outcome, it may be difficult to prove negligence.

Additionally, mental illnesses that result from misdiagnosis can be considered ‘harm’. This can include anxiety, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or emotional distress.

Examples of negligent misdiagnosis

Some common examples of negligent misdiagnosis are:

  • Incorrect cancer diagnosis (if the condition is non-cancerous)
  • Failure to diagnose early cancer symptoms
  • Failure to refer the patient to a specialist
  • Inadequate follow-up after treatment or an appointment
  • Failure to diagnose a stroke or heart attack.

However, it’s important to remember that not all misdiagnoses qualify as Medical Negligence.

Examples of non-negligent misdiagnosis

A non-negligent misdiagnosis occurs when your medical professional makes an incorrect diagnosis, but their actions are not negligent. This includes situations where another medical professional would have made the same mistake or you did not suffer harm due to the misdiagnosis.

In addition, you cannot claim Medical Negligence if:

  • Your condition worsens for unknown reasons, despite the medical professional meeting acceptable standards of care
  • The injury or adverse outcome happens despite the medical practitioner following best practice.

Time limits

Time limits apply to Medical Negligence claims for misdiagnosis. In most states, you have 3 years from the date you discovered the misdiagnosis. However, in other states, you have 3 years from the date the misdiagnosis occurred.

You may be able to apply for an exception if you’re outside your state’s time limit. However, Courts can be reluctant to grant time-limit exceptions, so it’s crucial to get legal advice before applying.

How a lawyer can assist with your claim

With expertise in both medicine and law, a lawyer can help you navigate the complex Medical Negligence system and secure maximum compensation.

We also use our national network of medical experts to provide compelling evidence of your doctor’s negligence. This strengthens your case and ensures it’s resolved as fast as possible.

Best of all, we make your claim risk-free. Our team covers all upfront costs, and you’re backed by our No Win No Fee guarantee. That means no out-of-pocket expenses and nothing to pay unless we win your case.

If you suspect you’ve been misdiagnosed, contact us immediately. Strict time limits apply to medical misdiagnosis claims, and you must file your claim quickly to avoid missing out on compensation.

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