Can I claim compensation for the initial failure to diagnose my condition?
Eoin P. Campbell
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief

Question:

I have just been informed that I have breast cancer, and the tumour is at an advanced stage. I have regular mammograms and my radiologist believes that the tumour was missed in a previous examination. Can I claim compensation for the initial failure to diagnose my condition?

Answer:

For a failure to diagnose compensation claim to be successful it has to be proven that the omission in diagnosing your condition has led to a subsequent injury. In the above question it would appear that this is the case, as an early diagnosis of breast cancer would have resulted in a greater number of treatment options and a higher chance of successful recovery.

However, an important consideration when you believe that there may have been a failure to diagnose is to seek a second medical opinion. A failure to diagnose compensation claim would be treated as medical negligence, and therefore it is essential that you have a medical expert review your case and also explain to you the health choices which are now available to you.

It is also important that you speak with a solicitor and establish what your legal options are. If a medical examination shows that “on the balance of probability” you had Stage 1 breast cancer in an earlier mammogram, a solicitor will be able to advise you on the course you need to take in order to claim failure to diagnose compensation.

As the Injuries Board Ireland declines to assess claims which involve medical negligence, you will require the services of a solicitor to litigate on your behalf. It is therefore in your best interests to discuss your case with a solicitor at your earliest opportunity.