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Medical Misdiagnosis Claims Guide.

If your illness or medical condition is misdiagnosed it can lead to serious consequences for you as a patient.

In Australia, medical misdiagnosis makes up a significant proportion of all medical negligence claims and, as you’ll see from the examples in this article, compensation payouts can run well into the millions of dollars.

In this guide we explain everything you need to know about medical misdiagnosis, including:

Patient in hospital after falling victim to medical misdiagnosis.

What is medical misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis is when your medical professional diagnoses the wrong condition or fails to diagnose your condition altogether. Misdiagnosis can lead to complications for you in one of three ways:

Delayed diagnosis is when your medical professional fails to correctly diagnose your symptoms or refer you for relevant tests, causing a delay in your condition being diagnosed. This leads to delayed treatment that can result in a much worse outcome you.

What are some examples of misdiagnosis?

Here are some examples of conditions and illnesses that are sometimes misdiagnosed resulting in a worse outcome for the patient:

For example, a heart attack can be misdiagnosed as anxiety or indigestion; however, it can be deadly without timely treatment.

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What do you do if you’ve been misdiagnosed?

We all put our trust in medical professionals when we’re injured or ill. But if you think you’ve been given the wrong diagnosis, you don’t need to simply accept the situation and hope for the best.

Here are some tips from our medical negligence lawyers to help you get the correct diagnosis and the treatment you need as quickly as possible:

Is misdiagnosis medical negligence?

Misdiagnosis may be considered to be medical negligence if it can be shown that your medical professional breached his or her duty of care and the result was a worse clinical outcome for you.

But just because you’ve been given the wrong diagnosis, doesn’t necessarily mean the medical professional has been negligent. Sometimes an early diagnosis might be off the mark, but after considering further medical evidence, the correct diagnosis might become apparent. If the outcome for you as the patient is still positive, and you’re given the correct treatment in a timely manner, then it’s unlikely to be considered medical negligence.

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Can I make a claim for medical misdiagnosis?

Yes, if your misdiagnosis was the result of negligence and has resulted in a worse clinical outcome for you, then you may be able to make a medical misdiagnosis claim. To be eligible for compensation you’ll need to prove that the behaviour of the medical professional didn’t meet the appropriate standard of care and that you suffered an injury or loss as a result.

For example, if you broke your wrist but your doctor failed to send you for scans and diagnose and treat the break, it could result in long-term damage to your wrist. In this case, the long-term damage could have been avoided if the doctor had diagnosed your break sooner, so it’s likely you would have a valid claim.

Our specialist medical misdiagnosis lawyers can assess your situation over the phone and tell you if it’s likely that you have a valid claim.

How much can I claim for misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis compensation payouts can be substantial. Your compensation will depend on the extent of your injuries or illness caused by being given the wrong diagnosis, and the impact they have on your life.

One way to get an indication of the potential size of medical misdiagnosis claims is to look at past cases. Here are two cases we won on behalf of our clients:

Case 1: Misdiagnosed appendicitis – $750k

Our client went to her doctor with abdominal pain and was misdiagnosed as having an ovarian cyst. But after experiencing worsening pain and symptoms, she was eventually diagnosed with a ruptured appendix seven days after her initial examination. As a result, she has suffered long term physical and psychological issues, which could have been avoided if the appendicitis hadn’t been misdiagnosed.

Our lawyers filed a misdiagnosis claim, and our client was awarded a medical misdiagnosis compensation payout of $750k.

Case 2: Paraplegia caused by wrong diagnosis – $4.5M

This was a particularly heart-breaking claim, where our client initially presented at hospital with severe neck pain. The hospital misdiagnosed him as having a muscle strain.

Some days later, our client collapsed at home and became unresponsive. He was rushed into surgery where it was found he had a cervical spinal epidural abscess caused by a Staph infection. Despite undergoing surgery, he was tragically left paraplegic and spent the next four months in hospital.

Our client was awarded a medical misdiagnosis payout amount of $4.5 million to cover his losses and pain and suffering and to support his future care and treatment expenses.

What medical misdiagnosis compensation can I claim?

Depending on the severity of your injuries or illness caused by a wrong diagnosis, your total compensation amount may include:

Lost incomeThe amount of income you’ve lost through taking time off work
Medical expensesThe expenses you’ve incurred from hospital and treatment for your injuries
Travel expensesThe cost of travelling to and from medical appointments and treatment
Domestic assistanceThe cost of getting help with your home duties while your recover
Pain and sufferingAn amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering, based on the extent of your injuries
Future lossesFor example, your future earnings that you’ll miss out on as a result of your injuries

You can read more about this in our guide to medical negligence compensation.

How long do I have to make a medical misdiagnosis claim?

You have three years from the ‘date of discoverability’ of your injury or illness to lodge your medical misdiagnosis claim. This is the date you became aware of the injury or illness, and you had enough information to suspect it was caused by your misdiagnosis.

The date of discoverability can be difficult to pinpoint, and exceptions can be given to children and people with disabilities, so if you’re unsure whether you’re still able to claim in Australia, you can call 13 15 15 and speak to a medical misdiagnosis specialist. It’s a free service.

How to sue a doctor for misdiagnosis.

The idea of suing a doctor might seem daunting. But the reality is that if you’ve suffered losses as a result of being given the wrong diagnosis, compensation payments can be an essential part of your recovery, to cover your lost wages, treatment expenses, and the overall impact on your life.

The steps you need to take to sue a doctor for misdiagnosis are quite straightforward. Here’s an overview of how it works at Law Partners:

In other words, you’ll have a specialist legal team doing all the work on your behalf and guiding you through the whole process.

How do I prove I was misdiagnosed?

To prove medical misdiagnosis, our lawyers work with medico-legal experts to thoroughly assess your situation and conclude that the medical professional was negligent in his or her duty of care.

Medical misdiagnosis claims are complex, and vigorously defended by insurers. The medical evidence needs to be thoroughly investigated and compiled, along with a detailed assessment of your personal situation – the impact that misdiagnosis has had on every aspect of your life.

At Law Partners, we take time to get to know you personally and make sure the full impact of your injuries or illness are taken into account in your claim. This more personal approach is key to winning more compensation for you.

How long will my medical misdiagnosis claim take?

Medical misdiagnosis claims often take years to settle. This is because claims can be complex, and it may be necessary to wait for injuries or illnesses to stabilise before a claim can be made.

However, it’s possible for claims to settle in a shorter timeframe if injuries have stabilised and there’s clear evidence that medical misdiagnosis has occurred, or if your circumstances require a more urgent settlement.

If you feel your situation is urgent and you’re struggling financially, you can call us on 13 15 15 to discuss your options with one of our lawyers. There’s no cost for this call.

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The most common types of medical misdiagnosis claims and examples.

Misdiagnosis generally falls under one of the following four categories:

Wrong DiagnosisA typical example is when a patient who presents with chest pain is misdiagnosed with a relatively minor condition such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), when in fact the patient’s symptoms are caused by a more serious condition such as a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism and no steps are taken to diagnose or treat those conditions.
Missed DiagnosisThis typically occurs when the patient is certified as fit, when in fact he or she suffers from a medical condition that could have been diagnosed at the time of certification.
Delayed diagnosisUsually occurs when the medical practitioner fails to obtain a proper history or refer the patient for appropriate investigations to rule out a particular condition.
Failure to diagnose a related or unrelated diseaseOccurs when the medical practitioner diagnoses and treats only one condition when the patient’s symptoms are caused by more than one condition. This leaves the undiagnosed condition untreated and allows it to progress further and affect the patient’s prognosis.

Cancer misdiagnosis.

Medical misdiagnosis cases involving a serious condition like cancer where early treatment is important can have a devastating impact on a patient. It can result in worse outcomes, longer treatment times and a significant psychological and financial burden. In particular, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of the following cancers can have serious implications for the patient:

In a situation where a patient presents to a medical professional with symptoms of cancer, but the medical professional misdiagnoses the cancer, then the delay in treatment could allow the cancer to spread and result in a much worse outcome.

Getting help with your medical misdiagnosis claim.

At Law Partners, we have a team of leading medical negligence specialists. There’s no cost for one of our lawyers to review your situation and advise you on your options. And if you choose Law Partners to manage your claim, we’ll work on a no win no fee basis, so you’ll have peace of mind. We win over 99% of our cases.

Robert Hopper bio pic

Robert Hopper

Managing Solicitor

An accredited specialist in personal injury law, backed by over 15 years’ experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to with their workers compensation claim.

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