How could the doctor negligence Statute of Limitations affect my compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

The ‘doctor negligence’ Statute of Limitations places a time limit of two years on the length of time you have to initiate a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer from the date you were officially first told that a misdiagnosis had been made – not the date on which the misdiagnosis took place.

Even though your `Date of Knowledge’ may have occurred only recently – and you might have the majority of the two-year time limit left in which to start your claim – it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor about your compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer as soon as possible.

The ‘doctor negligence’ Statute of Limitations is in place to encourage potential plaintiffs to initiate legal action while evidence of negligence is still recent, but it can take a considerable amount of time to compile the information needed to support a claim for the incorrect diagnosis of cancer – even when it is plainly obvious that a mistake has been made.

A compensation claim for the incorrect diagnosis of cancer will have to show where in the chain of events the error occurred; as it may not be your oncologist or cancer specialist who was to blame for making the initial error if data he or she had been provided with by laboratory technicians or administrators was misleading.

It may also be the case that, despite the misdiagnosis, you have suffered no significant deterioration in your condition or any deterioration you have experience could not have been prevented had the correct diagnosis been made initially.

Your solicitor would write to each individual involved in your treatment – without accusing them of negligence – to obtain any notes relevant to the misdiagnosis. Your solicitor would show these to a medical expert, and ask the medical expert to examine you, to ascertain whether you had a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer which was worth your while to pursue.

If it is agreed that there is a viable claim, and you still wish to proceed, the solicitor would then initiate the claim for the incorrect diagnosis of cancer by sending a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the negligent party – who, most frequently in Ireland, is the Health Service Executive (HSE). When the HSE acknowledge receipt of the letter, this is when the clock is stopped on the two year ‘doctor negligence’ Statute of Limitations.

Your compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer does not have to be resolved within the two year ‘doctor negligence’ Statute of Limitations but, as you can see, the preparation that is involved in the claim may be quite time-consuming, and this is why it is advisable to speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.