Medical treatment unfolds over several distinct stages. These might vary depending on the patient and the medical condition in question. Still, the basic elements remain the same: first, the problem is identified, then, a solution is prescribed and applied.
If the problem hasn’t been correctly identified, then the treatments prescribed might not be effective. They might delay the administration of the appropriate treatment and cause a number of adverse side effects.
This problem is known as misdiagnosis. It comes in several distinct categories. A diagnosis might not be reached at all, which means that no treatment is ever prescribed. The correct diagnosis might be reached, but late enough to cause an avoidable delay in treatment.
The most damaging form of misdiagnosis occurs when the medical professional concludes that you’re suffering from a different problem than the one you’re actually suffering from. This is more common for certain conditions than others. For example, many Parkinson’s sufferers report being wrongly diagnosed when they first began to experience symptoms.
What do statistics say about medical negligence in the UK health system?
Every year, the NHS produces a report on its own performance. In the financial year commencing April 2021, there were around 15,078 reported claims of clinical negligence. This is an increase of around 13% from the previous year.
In 2019, it was revealed that, over a three-year period, around 4,097 payouts were made due to misdiagnosis, costing a total of £583 million. When you consider that thirty-three million diagnosis tests were administered over the same period, however, the failure rate doesn’t look quite as egregious.
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What can I do if I’ve been misdiagnosed?
Misdiagnosis is a major problem, and has been for as long as medicine has been around. Today, fortunately, patients who’ve been misdiagnosed have the option of pursuing a legal remedy – provided that the treatment they’ve received falls beneath the standard for medical negligence.
If you’re in this position, it’s worth seeking the services of a solicitor that specializes in medical negligence. That way, you’ll be guided through the process, and you’ll have a reasonable degree of certainty regarding your chances of success.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all misdiagnoses amount to medical negligence. You’ll have to prove that the mistake would not have been made by a competent member of the profession. Some diseases are hard to identify, especially in the early stages, and doctors who fail to get it right are not always culpable for the error.
Moreover, you’ll need to prove that you have suffered as a result of the mistake. This suffering might come in the form of physical or mental pain, or it might be financial. The more evidence you have of the circumstances and results of the misdiagnosis, the better your chances of success will be.
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