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Misdiagnosed? You might be entitled to compensation.

Patient in hospital after falling victim to medical misdiagnosis.

When illnesses or medical conditions are misdiagnosed, it can lead to delayed treatment and serious health consequences. In Australia, medical misdiagnosis makes up a significant proportion of medical negligence claims, and as you’ll see from the examples below, compensation payouts can run well into the millions of dollars. 

In this guide we explain everything you need to know about medical misdiagnosis, how to find out what you can claim if you’ve been misdiagnosed, and how to get the right help with your claim. 

What is medical misdiagnosis? 

Medical misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional diagnoses the wrong condition or fails to diagnose a patient’s condition altogether.  

Misdiagnosis generally leads to complications for the patient in one of three ways: 

What do you do if you’ve been misdiagnosed? 

We all put our trust in medical professionals. But if you believe you’ve been given the wrong diagnosis, you don’t need to simply accept the situation and hope for the best. Follow these steps to get the correct diagnosis and the treatment you need as quickly as possible: 

Is misdiagnosis medical negligence? 

Yes, misdiagnosis may be considered to be medical negligence if the medical professional breached their duty of care and the result was a worse clinical outcome for the patient. 

But just because you’ve been given the wrong diagnosis, doesn’t necessarily mean the treating 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 is still positive, and correct treatment is given 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, then you may be able to make a 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. A specialist medical misdiagnosis lawyer will be able to assess your situation and tell you if it’s likely that you can 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 compensation payouts 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 had been diagnosed correctly in the first place. 

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 can I claim for? 

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

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

How do I make a claim? 

To prove medical misdiagnosis, you’ll need medico-legal experts to thoroughly assess your situation and conclude that the medical professional was negligent in their 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.  

Here’s are the steps to making a successful claim:  

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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. 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 long will my 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. If you rush into accepting an early settlement, you risk missing out on compensation you’re entitled to. 

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. 

Getting free advice on 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. 

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