Health practitioners owe their patients a duty of care in the medical advice they offer. If your doctor provides you with a diagnosis that is incorrect, or should have been realised at an earlier date, you may be entitled to compensation.

Irish healthcare professionals perform difficult jobs to a very high standard but, on occasion, they make errors that can form the basis of a medical misdiagnosis claim.

At Hughes & Associates Solicitors, we operate out of Dublin and can provide vast experience on cases of misdiagnosis. Talk to us about your case by emailing info@hughessolicitors.ie or phoning +353 1 891 0020.

What is a Misdiagnosis?

  • Failure to diagnose: a practitioner may fail to identify elements of illness or disease when assessing your condition. If a delay in spotting any issue results in a patient’s health declining, there may be grounds for compensation.

  • Late diagnosis: with many forms of serious illness, it is imperative to begin treating a patient as early as possible. In the case of different forms of cancer, for instance, a late diagnosis can see palliative care become the only course of action where an earlier diagnosis may have been far more treatable.

  • Incorrect diagnosis: the wrong diagnosis can very often lead to the wrong treatment plan. It can cause medical complications and the patient’s underlying condition will likely fail to be addressed.

Is a Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence?

Misdiagnosis is a form of medical negligence as it breaches a practitioner’s duty of care to their patients. When procedure is broken and an error occurs, a medical professional can be held responsible for any illness or injury. 

It is important to note that even if a doctor’s actions have led to an injury, a medical negligence claim will only be successful if their actions are deemed unreasonable. It is important to seek expert advice on any specific case in order to justify any basis for compensation.  

Differential Diagnosis

A differential diagnosis is an important step in the diagnostic process. It amounts to a list of potential diagnoses based on the symptoms and condition of a given patient. A differential diagnosis is not a conclusive assessment, but a theory that can be expanded upon. 

One a practitioner draws up their differential diagnosis list, they can begin running tests to eliminate various conditions and ultimately make the correct assertion on a patient’s ailment.

Can I Sue a Doctor for Misdiagnosis?

If you or a loved one received substandard medical care that resulted in the deterioration of your health, you may have grounds to claim for medical negligence. In that regard, it is fair to say a doctor or medical professional can be sued for making a misdiagnosis. 

The area of misdiagnosis, and of any malpractice that falls under medical negligence, is a complex one. Situations vary significantly on a case-by-case basis and the best way to discover whether or not you have grounds for filing a claim against your doctor is by having your case assessed by an experienced team of solicitors.

What are the Common Types of Misdiagnosis?

Expanding upon the three general kinds of misdiagnosis, there are several situations that can commonly constitute a failure to properly assess a patient’s condition:

  • Misinterpretation of test results: a failure to properly analyse test results is a common route to a misdiagnosis. This can cover anything from blood tests and x-rays to endoscopies and biopsies.

  • Miscommunication with a patient: doctors are tasked with ensuring they communicate effectively with their patients so that there is no misunderstanding on their condition or treatment plan. Ascertaining a patient’s symptoms, for instance, is crucial to an accurate diagnosis.

  • Failure to identify a root cause: diagnosing the root cause to a patient’s ailment is vital in assessing their overall condition. If it goes undiscovered, a treatment cycle could finish prematurely.

  • Failure to identify a related or unrelated issue: sometimes a patient’s condition is impacted by more than one disease. It can be difficult for a practitioner to diagnose multiple illnesses, especially if they are unrelated, but a failure to do so can be hugely detrimental.

  • False positives and false negatives: naturally, if a healthcare provider diagnoses you with an illness you do not have – or fails to diagnose you with an illness you do have – it can have a huge impact on your condition. Either situation can lead to an inadequate treatment plan and may cause serious damage to your health.

Examples of Misdiagnosed Conditions

A misdiagnosis or late diagnosis can be hugely damaging to a variety of health conditions. Some common misdiagnoses include:

  • Cancer misdiagnosis: cancer diagnoses are particularly tricky because they can cover such a broad range of symptoms. Uterine cancer, for instance, is a form that affects women’s reproductive systems and can cause immense pelvic and period pain. Because of the similarities between the symptoms, uterine cancer can sometimes be misdiagnosed as adenomyosis.

  • Leukemia misdiagnosis: a very dangerous subset of cancer misdiagnosis, blood cancer or leukemia may not be identified until the disease has progressed. Blood cancer misdiagnosis is particularly dangerous because of the speed at which your health can deteriorate.

  • Cystic Fibrosis late diagnosis: although they are rare, late diagnoses for adults with CF do occur. Oftentimes it comes as a relief for individuals who may have suffered with symptoms of CF for years prior to the eventual diagnosis.

  • Autism late diagnosis: as with CF, adults who are diagnosed with autism may have dealt with milder symptoms in the years preceding their diagnosis. An individual may have received an Asperger’s diagnosis which is now considered a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism diagnoses are complex given the spectrum that exists within the disorder – no two adults with autism share the exact same experience.

  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis misdiagnosis: PSC diagnoses require the expertise of a medical specialist, and some individuals go many years without an accurate diagnosis. It is a very uncommon, chronic disease that impacts bile ducts in the liver so many healthcare centres do not treat patients that suffer with PSC.

  • Down Syndrome misdiagnosis: individuals with mosaic Down syndrome are often misdiagnosed with the more common Trisomy 21 Down syndrome. Roughly 15% of those diagnosed with Trisomy 21 Down syndrome actually have mosaic Down syndrome.

  • Asthma misdiagnosis: given how widespread the condition is globally, it is quite common for asthma misdiagnosis to occur. Overdiagnosis can result in individuals receiving treatment for a condition they do not have, and underdiagnosis carries the risk of long-term symptoms going untreated.

  • Diabetes misdiagnosis: over one million American citizens are misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every year. Because of the different forms of diabetes that can impact people, it is very common to find people diagnosed with the wrong type of diabetes.

  • Pulmonary Embolism misdiagnosis: one of the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions, PE constitutes the blockage of the pulmonary artery. Its misdiagnosis can have huge effects on patients as the damage untreated PE causes increases over time.

Have you suffered medical negligence?

If you suffered an accident as a result of inadequate or incompetent care from a medical professional, it is crucial you contact a solicitor with experience in hospital negligence claims.

At Hughes & Associates Solicitors, we offer vast experience in cases of misdiagnosis and can assess your case for compensation with the utmost care and attention to detail. 

Based in Dublin and serving Irish claimants, we are available for enquiries via email at info@hughessolicitors.ie or by phoning us on +353 1 891 0020.

Contact the Hughes & Associates Team