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Failure to diagnose a medical condition

Without doubt the number of claims arising against GPs, Hospitals and Consultants is increasing.  People are becoming more aware that if they receive unsatisfactory treatment and suffer adverse consequences, then they are entitled to pursue a claim.

Medical advisers, including GPs, Hospitals and Consultants owe you a duty of care.  To pursue a claim you have to be able to show that the treatment you received fell below the standard you were entitled to expect.  Effectively you have to show that the GP, Hospital and/or Consultant were negligent in the treatment they provided to you.  In the case of medical advisers this is called “Clinical Negligence” .  Some of you may be familiar with the most obvious instances of  Clinical Negligence – where you are given the wrong medication or wrong dosage of medication and it makes you ill; or where an operation goes wrong due to fault on the part of the Consultant.  But Clinical negligence involves much more than obvious cases.

One of the areas where I  am noticing an increase in the number of calls I receive, is cases where there has been a failure to diagnose a condition in the first place – so it is not so much a case of the medical adviser being negligent in the treatment they provided but more a case of being negligent in NOT providing treatment.  Typical examples of how this occurs are when you attend your GP with clear symptoms of a condition and the GP fails to identify the problem and in failing treat you, your condition worsens.  Or maybe your GP fails to diagnose the CORRECT condition and treats you for something else.

If that has happened to you then you may be able to pursue a claim against your GP. This is not to say that on every occasion where this has happened then a claim will succeed. If your GP  can show that his/her actions were reasonable in the circumstances then they will have a defence available to them.  But you should at least consider legal action and  speak to us to  discuss your own particular case  and we will give you our view on whether you are likely to succeed with a claim.

Such cases are not limited to GPs.  I hear of many cases where a correct diagnosis was not made at the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital and this has gone on to cause medical problems that could have been avoided.  Or cases where a referral has been made to a Consultant and even then a correct diagnosis is not made.

Every case turns on its’ own particular facts and sometimes as the person who has been affected by the failure to diagnose it is difficult to know if this amounts to negligence.  We will always be happy to discuss your case with you and give you our initial opinion on your prospects of success.  If it is not possible for us to do that based on the information to hand at that time then we can outline what further information is needed to be able to give you our view.  Then you will have a good idea of what needs to be done.

If you would like to talk to us about a case where you consider that there has been a failure to diagnose a medical condition then call us.

Until next time


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