Cancer Misdiagnosis and Negligence Claims

In the realm of healthcare, one of the most critical aspects is the timely diagnosis of diseases, especially those as severe as cancer. In England and Wales, the NHS provides world-class healthcare services, yet there are instances where patients have experienced delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, leading to a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. When such devastating medical errors occur, clinical negligence claims become an essential avenue for obtaining justice and compensation.

Clinical negligence refers to the breach of duty of care by healthcare professionals, resulting in harm to the patient. A crucial sub-category of this is delayed cancer diagnosis, which can drastically affect the patient's prognosis, treatment options, and overall quality of life.

The specialist clinical negligence solicitors at Curtis Law have investigated numerous cases where delayed diagnosis of cancer has led to more invasive treatments, reduced chances of survival, and in some cases, untimely death. This unfortunate scenario underscores the necessity of clinical negligence claims to hold the responsible parties accountable and to ensure that such errors are minimised in the future.

What is cancer?

Cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way. According to Macmillan Cancer Support there are more than 200 different types of cancer and each type has its own name and treatment. Cancers grow at different rates and some cancers may eventually spread into other tissues in other parts of the body. Cancers are divided into five main groups according to the type of cell that they start from. These groups are carcinomas, lymphomas, leukaemias, brain tumours and sarcomas. Cancers are assigned a stage and a grade at diagnosis depending on how quickly a cancer may grow and which treatments may work best. The stage of a cancer means how big the cancer is and whether it is spread. The grade looks at how abnormal the cancer calls are. Treatments for cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted cancer drugs.

The earlier that cancer is diagnosed, and the sooner that the correct treatment is started, the better the sufferer’s chances are of recovery and survival. According to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people in the UK will develop cancer in their lifetime. Medical negligence claims are unable to deal with the fact that a person has cancer because it is usually caused by non-negligent factors. The focus is therefore on whether there has been a failure to diagnose cancer, or a delayed diagnosis of cancer, and determining what impact that failure or delay has had on the development of the cancer, the range and viability of treatments that can be offered, and the likelihood of recovery and survival.

Making a Claim for Delayed Cancer Diagnosis

The process of making a clinical negligence claim is complex and requires expert legal guidance. The claimant must prove that the healthcare professional breached their duty of care and that this breach directly led to the injury or harm. In the context of delayed cancer diagnosis, the claimant must demonstrate that the delay worsened their condition or decreased their chances of survival.

The process begins with the claimant approaching a solicitor who specialises in clinical negligence. The specialist solicitors at Curtis Law have extensive experience in dealing with the NHS and private healthcare providers, and they understand the intricacies of medical evidence and legal procedures.

Once engaged, the solicitor will gather evidence, including medical records, expert reports, and any other relevant information. This evidence is crucial in establishing the link between the delayed diagnosis and the harm suffered by the patient.

The types of cancer misdiagnosis claims that we have advised on include:

• GP negligence in failing to refer a patient for specialist oncological review under the two week rule.
• Failure to investigate symptoms indicative of cancer.
• Failure to properly interpret test results.
• Failure to perform a biopsy in a timely manner or at all.
• Failure to provide a timely response to test results and to escalate care accordingly.

Compensation and its Importance

The compensation awarded in successful clinical negligence claims can cover a range of losses. These include general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and special damages for past and future financial losses (including loss of earnings and future care costs).

Compensation is more than just a financial settlement. It can help cover the cost of treatment, rehabilitation, and any necessary adaptations to the claimant's lifestyle, making a significant difference in their quality of life.

Our specialist solicitors adopt a client-focussed approach to assess the impact that the alleged negligence has had on the client and to ensure that the financial compensation addresses their needs.

Preventing Future Negligence

Beyond compensation, clinical negligence claims play a pivotal role in improving healthcare services. They highlight systemic issues and encourage healthcare providers to implement changes to prevent future negligence. These claims can lead to increased awareness, more rigorous protocols, and improved training for healthcare professionals, all of which contribute to a safer healthcare environment.

Clinical negligence claims for delayed cancer diagnosis are not only a means to secure compensation for the affected individuals but also a powerful tool for systemic change in the healthcare sector. By holding healthcare providers accountable, we can strive towards a future where delayed diagnosis is the exception, not the norm.

If you or a loved one have suffered due to a delayed cancer diagnosis, it is crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible. With the right legal support, you can navigate the complex process of making a clinical negligence claim and secure the compensation you deserve, while also contributing to the improvement of healthcare services.

Every patient has the right to timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment. Clinical negligence claims are a crucial part of ensuring that this right is upheld.

If you wish to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim with our specialist solicitors you can email us, use our online enquiry form, or call us for free on 0800 008 7450.