I have been told that it is possible to claim misdiagnosis of Lymphoma compensation when symptoms of the disease have been missed by a doctor. My mother has now been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but visited a doctor with symptoms six months ago. Is she eligible to claim compensation for the misdiagnosis of Lymphoma?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

It may be possible to claim misdiagnosis of lymphoma compensation if a patient visits a doctor with advanced symptoms of this cancer, and the symptoms are misinterpreted and are attributed to another condition, are missed entirely or the patient is not referred to an oncologist for further testing. However this does not necessarily mean that a claim for the misdiagnosis of lymphoma compensation can be made in every scenario.

The misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of lymphoma is not uncommon in Ireland, as this cancer has symptoms which can be attributed to other less serious conditions, including common infections. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation lists more than seventy known forms of lymphoma, and it has been standard medical practice to leave the symptoms untreated during their early development to identify the strain of lymphoma and prescribe the most appropriate course of treatment at a later stage.

In order for your mother´s claim for compensation for the misdiagnosis of lymphoma to be successful, it will have to be established by a medical expert that any competent doctor “at the time and in those circumstances” would have identified the symptoms of a lymphoma-type condition and referred her for further tests. It will also have to be determined that, had your mother´s doctor referred her for tests and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma been corrected diagnosed, any treatment she would have received in the six months in which treatment was delayed, would have improved the chances of eliminating or containing the cancer.

In the case of your mother, as six months had elapsed between the correct diagnosis and the initial misdiagnosis of lymphoma, compensation for the misdiagnosis of lymphoma might also be applicable for negligence in patient follow up. Your mother´s doctor should have informed her of the potential seriousness of the symptoms she displayed, should they persist, and advised her to return for a check up if her condition did not improve.

You should discuss your mother´s exact situation in detail with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity to determine whether there has been medical negligence in her particular case and if she has a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of lymphoma which is worth here while to pursue.