Claiming Compensation For Misdiagnosis Or Late Diagnosis Of Cancer17th Apr 2023
Speed Of Diagnosis Is Still Vital
Despite all the advances in the treatment of cancer – and the improved survival rates – swift diagnosis remains crucial. Late diagnosis of cancer can and still does have fatal consequences.
Sadly, some GPs and hospitals are still failing to diagnose cancer correctly, with devastating consequences for patients and their loved ones.
No amount of money can compensate for loss of life due to medical negligence. But it can help to support those left behind.
What Happens When Doctors Fail To Diagnose Cancer In Time
Some of the potential outcomes of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer include:
- Delayed treatment – a late diagnosis may mean that the cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage by the time it is identified. This can make it more difficult to treat and can reduce the chances of a successful outcome.
- Worsened prognosis – a delay in treatment can reduce the chances of a full recovery and increase the risk of cancer recurrence. In some cases, a delay in treatment can even be life-threatening.
- Unnecessary treatment – misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. This can cause physical and emotional harm to the patient.
- Psychological distress – a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can cause significant psychological distress for the patient and their family members. This can include anxiety, depression and fear of death.
- Financial impact – additional medical expenses and lost income due to missed work. Late diagnosis can also lead to long-term disability or the need for ongoing care.
Why Doctors Can Fail To Diagnose Cancer In Time
Despite clinicians’ best efforts, cases of misdiagnosis or late diagnosis happen more often than you might expect.
Covid has made matters worse. It could take a decade to clear the backlog of cases missed during the pandemic, warns the British Medical Journal.
Mistakes and delays happen when people are overwhelmed with work, when systems and services are overburdened. Sadly, the NHS is no exception.
There are a number of reasons why misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer may occur. These include:
- Failure to recognise symptoms – cancer can present with a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be easily confused with other, less serious conditions. GPs and hospital doctors may initially fail to recognise the symptoms of cancer, leading to delays.
- Misinterpretation of test results – in some cases, test results may be misinterpreted or incorrectly reported, leading to a misdiagnosis or delay.
- Failure to refer to a specialist – GPs and hospital doctors may fail to refer patients for further investigation. This can lead to a delay in diagnosis.
- Inadequate screening – in some cases, patients may not be offered the appropriate screening tests for their age and gender, resulting in missed opportunities for early detection and treatment.
- Communication breakdown – miscommunication between healthcare professionals can result in delays or a failure to diagnose cancer altogether.
Claiming Compensation For Cancer Misdiagnosis
Nobody wants to sue the NHS – but sometimes patients are left with no alternative. Especially when it’s cancer, when it’s your life or the life of a loved one at stake.
Cancer patients need urgent treatment and care. They may not be confident in entrusting their life to a hospital that has already failed them once by not diagnosing their cancer quickly enough.
If they still have a chance at beating cancer, they will need compensation to fund urgent treatment at a private hospital.
And if it’s too late, if the cancer has become untreatable, they will need palliative care – and the reassurance that their loved ones will be provided for sufficiently after they have gone.
Get Legal Advice Promptly – There Is A Time Limit On Compensation Claims
If you or a loved one have cancer, you don’t need a solicitor to tell you that swift action is vital.
But I’m going to tell you anyway…because the issue of time also affects those who’ve already lost someone to cancer.
There is a time limit on medical negligence claims. The limitation period is usually three years from the date that you first became aware of negligence causing significant injury.
But there are some exceptions to this rule:
- if the claimant dies within the three-year period then a new three-year period starts from the date of death
- under-18s (the clock starts running on their 18th birthday – so the three years would expire on their 21st birthday)
- adults without the mental capacity to take legal decisions – there is no time limit (while they lack capacity).
Furthermore, the courts have the power to extend the time limit beyond three years if they believe that the circumstances of the case call for it.
However, it is important to bring a medical negligence claim as soon as possible. Waiting can make it harder to gather evidence.
No Win No Fee Compensation Claims For Cancer Misdiagnosis
As specialist medical negligence solicitors, we act for clients across the country. We’ve handled a lot of cases involving delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer.
We helped a woman in her 40s to claim £675,000 after her cervical cancer was diagnosed later than it should have been.
This late diagnosis reduced her life expectancy and left her unable to work. It meant she needed aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment – causing continence and mobility issues.
We handle medical negligence claims on a No Win No Fee basis so there is no financial risk to you. You can claim without having to pay any legal fees in advance.
No Win No Fee – also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) – ensures you don’t have to pay any legal fees in the unlikely event that your claim is unsuccessful.
If you don’t win your case, you won’t have to pay your solicitor’s fees. (We absorb the cost.) And insurance taken out as part of the process means the other’s side legal fees would be covered too.
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