Cancer misdiagnosis claims can be life changing. Coming to terms with how it will affect you and your loved ones will take time. You must consider your diagnosis and the treatment options available to you, together with the possible side effects of each treatment. You may have to navigate changes in your relationships and start to think about the future in a very different way: a cancer diagnosis can affect your finances, property, job and children, to name just a few areas.
In some cases cancer is misdiagnosed, or there is a delay in the diagnosis which means that the prognosis is worse than it otherwise would have been. You may find that some treatments which would have been available had your cancer been diagnosed at an earlier stage are no longer available to you. In either case, in addition to dealing with the clinical consequences, you will also have to deal with anger, stress and upset caused. You may also lose vital trust in your medical team which will be important moving forward.
How common is cancer misdiagnosis/delayed diagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis happens more frequently than many people would realise. A 2018 report by the All. Can cancer initiative found that 4 in 10 people with cancer in the UK are misdiagnosed at least once before the disease is correctly identified. The report also warned that 1 in 5 of the patients who responded to the survey said they waited more than 6 months to receive a correct diagnosis.
Another study by Cancer Research UK found that 22% of the 356,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK, were ultimately diagnosed during a visit to an Accident and Emergency Department. This, despite 71% of these people having previously visited their GP with cancer-related symptoms. No matter the cause, this delay in diagnosing a deadly disease can, and will have, cost lives. A delay in diagnosis, and therefore treatment, means the cancer has often spread to other areas of the body before it is diagnosed.
Consequences of cancer misdiagnosis/delayed diagnosis
Misdiagnosis of cancer costs the NHS millions of pounds each year in wasted clinical time and resources.
However, the personal affect that a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis can have on a patient and their loved ones is more important. Sometimes treatment options which would otherwise have been available to the patient are no longer available, or a more invasive treatment becomes necessary. Other consequences include having to take time off of work, needing care from family members, and needing to pay for costly medical treatment.
I have received a cancer misdiagnosis/delay in diagnosis – what should I do?
- Communicate with all doctors involved, including the one who misdiagnosed you. Consider getting all the doctors together to talk about your case;
- Keep copies of your medical records including X-rays and pathology reports;
- Research cancer support groups to interact with other cancer patients who can often offer sensible advice and support;
- Speak to your treating doctors about the next stage of your journey, including what treatment you will receive and any side effects of the proposed treatment;
- Depending on your circumstances, you could be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence.
Claiming for medical negligence in the case of a cancer misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis
A quick and accurate diagnosis is essential if patients are to receive treatment that gives them the best chance of surviving cancer. However, if you have been misdiagnosed or experienced a delay in the diagnosis of your cancer, you may be able to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim. You may also make a claim on behalf of someone who has died due to a delay in their cancer diagnosis, if you are the personal representative of their estate.
To bring successful cancer misdiagnosis claims, it must be shown that a duty of care was owed, that the duty of care was breached and that this caused harm to you or your loved one. Normally it is easy to show that your doctor or the hospital at which you received treatment owed you a duty of care. However, proving that this duty was breached and that this caused you to suffer avoidable injury is often more difficult.
As indicated above, clinical negligence cases are inherently complicated, so having a specialist and experienced lawyer is vital. Given that there is a 3 year time limit within which to commence court proceedings, you should not delay in seeking legal advice if you think that you may be able to make cancer misdiagnosis claims for compensation.
Get in touch with our specialist team
If you think that you have been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis and that you have a case to claim for compensation, please get in touch with our specialist team as soon as possible. Out team have many years’ experience in representing patients and their families, who have been affected by a cancer misdiagnosis or a delay in cancer diagnosis.
Our promise to you
- We will review your cancer misdiagnosis claim by advising you on the NHS complaints procedure or other alternative procedure if your case does not relate to NHS care and treatment
- We provide a free initial consultation and case review;
- We can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records;
- Our specialist clinical negligence solicitors will advise you as to the best course of action in respect of your case.