Can I make a claim for doctor misdiagnosis compensation because my doctor failed to recognise the symptoms of pneumonia and diagnosed me with a heavy cold?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

Although your explanation of the events would make it seem apparent that a medical mistake has been made – and that you might be entitled to make a claim for doctor misdiagnosis compensation – cases of this nature can frequently be more complicated.

In order to make a claim for compensation for a doctors misdiagnosis, it has to be established that when your doctor misdiagnosed you with a heavy cold he or she displayed a poor professional performance “at the time and in those circumstances” and that you suffered an avoidable injury or the deterioration of an existing health condition as a result.

Had the symptoms of pneumonia been insignificant at the time, a “competent” doctor might also have failed to recognise them and similarly diagnosed you with a heavy cold – in which case, as a claim for doctor misdiagnosis compensation is resolved by medical opinion, you would not have grounds to make a claim for compensation for a doctors misdiagnosis.
In order to determine the answer to that issue, the services of a medical expert would be engaged by a solicitor acting on your behalf to review your relevant medical notes and ascertain whether or not the misdiagnosis given to you by your doctor represented a lack of skill or a lack of ability to demonstrate that skill.

If negligence is established, and you experienced a considerable deterioration in your health due to the misdiagnosis of pneumonia – not just an uncomfortable week between the original misdiagnosis and the correct identification of your illness – you will be able to make a compensation claim for your doctors misdiagnosis.

The process for claiming compensation for a doctors misdiagnosis is that your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim to your doctor informing him or her that a claim for doctor misdiagnosis compensation is being made against them and providing your doctor with evidence in support of your claim. Should the doctor acknowledge his or her liability for their mistake and the deterioration of your condition, your doctor – or more frequently the medical insurers for the clinic he or she is attached to – will be invited to make an offer of settlement.

At the same time, your solicitor will work out how much compensation for a doctors misdiagnosis you should receive, based on the length of time that you unnecessarily suffered with pneumonia and the deterioration in your health. Provided that the insurance company´s offer and your solicitor´s calculations are similar, your compensation claim for a doctors misdiagnosis should be resolved quickly.

Any expenses which are attributable to your doctor´s mistake or any loss of income you have suffered because of the avoidable period during which the pneumonia prevented you from working can be recovered in a claim for doctor misdiagnosis compensation. Your doctor misdiagnosis compensation settlement should ensure that you are no worse off financially than if your misdiagnosis had ever happened. Therefore, any fees incurred for the services of a solicitor to pursue your compensation claim for a doctors misdiagnosis or a medical expert to support your claim can also be recovered.

As there are time limits enforced by the Statute of Limitations on how long you have in which to make a claim for compensation for a doctors misdiagnosis, it would be in your best interests to speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.