Medical misdiagnosis – a continuing problem in the NHS

Medical misdiagnosis is a continuing problem in the NHS; although medical technology and our understanding of the human anatomy are improving all the time, the vast number of different illnesses and injuries that doctors have to assess – often under pressure and with limited resources – means that mistakes are still made from time-to-time. This is a challenge that doctors and nurses face every day; however, there are ways to reduce the risk of a medical misdiagnosis occurring.

Misdiagnosis generally falls into one of three categories: ‘total misdiagnosis’, ‘late misdiagnosis’ and ‘incorrect misdiagnosis’. A total misdiagnosis is the complete failure of a medical professional to diagnose a patient’s health problem or illness. If an illness is eventually diagnosed after being initially missed, it is classed as a late misdiagnosis. And if the patient is diagnosed with the wrong illness, injury or medical condition, it is referred to as an incorrect misdiagnosis. Each category of misdiagnosis presents its own problems, and each can have long-term implications for the general health of the patient.

DoctorWhen considering making a personal injury compensation claim for medical misdiagnosis, it is important to remember that there is a three-year time limit within which to make a claim. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule: If the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the misdiagnosis, they have three-years from the date of their 18th birthday within which to make a claim; if the injured party is suffering from a mental illness, they have three years after fully recovering from their illness to make a compensation claim.

Despite advances in medical technology and knowledge, cases of medical misdiagnosis are still on the rise. The number of claims for medical misdiagnosis increased by almost 18% in 2013/2014, and a total of £1.6 billion was paid out in 2014. There were a total of 11,945 new clinical negligence claims in 2014, and the potential liabilities of the NHS Litigation Authority currently stands at a staggering £26.1 billion, of which £25.7 billion relates to clinical negligence claims.

Between April 1995 and March 2014, there were a total of 37,528 clinical negligence claims relating to surgical errors – more than twice as much as reported for obstetrics and gynaecology (18,132) and medicine (17,479). During the same period, there were a total of 11,676 claims made for Accident & Emergency cases. In terms of NHS trusts, the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust received 478 medical misdiagnosis compensation claims, while the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was second with 179 compensation claims.

Blackwater Law is a highly regarded and trusted firm of personal injury lawyers who have extensive experience in cases relating to clinical negligence, criminal injuries, workplace accidents and more. Their professional approach and commitment to securing the compensation their clients deserve has earned them as a reputation as one of the leading personal injury solicitors in the UK, and with their ‘no win, no fee’ service and free one-hour consultation there is no financial risk to the client at any stage of the personal injury compensation process.

“If you or a relative have suffered serious consequences through a misdiagnosis then you deserve recompense”

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