Preliminary figures following the Covid-19 pandemic indicate that 7,000 fewer cancer diagnoses were made in 2020 than in 2019. In 2019, around 40,000 new cancer patients were confirmed compared to 33,000 in 2020. This suggests that around 7,000 cancer diagnoses may have been missed or delayed. It is well known that surviving cancer is more likely the earlier it is detected and treated. Cancer Research UK estimates that more than 50,000 patients (in the UK) every year may have their survival rate cut because of a missed or late diagnosis of their cancer.
If a mistake has been made and your prospects have been worsened as a result of a delayed cancer diagnosis, you may be able to pursue a medical negligence claim. Studies have shown that the most commonly missed diagnoses are gynaecological, skin, urological and skin cancers. However, if your doctor has been negligent by failing to diagnose any type of cancer leading to delay, you may be able to pursue a medical negligence claim.
What do I need to prove?
In claims for medical negligence, it is necessary to prove a breach of duty on the part of the medical professional and that this breach caused your injury, damage or loss.
A breach of duty means that the standard of treatment and care that you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent doctor or medical professional.
Even if a doctor breached their duty of care owed to you, if this made no difference to your outcome, you will not be able to make a medical negligence claim. In other words, it is necessary to establish how the delay has changed your outcome. Any compensation or damages awarded to you will reflect the harm you suffered as a result of the delay.
How do delays occur?
A common breach of duty of care occurs when a patient’s GP fails to recognise cancer symptoms which leads to delay in that patient being referred to a specialist. This may result in a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Even if a referral has been made, other errors include:
- Failure to carry out the appropriate examinations, scans or tests
- Misinterpretation of x-rays, scans or other tests
- Failure to recognise symptoms of certain cancers
- Misdiagnosis with a less serious condition
What compensation can I claim for?
The amount of compensation you may be entitled to can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of your case. Broadly, this will depend on the type of cancer and how the late diagnosis has affected your outcome. You may also be able to claim for other past and future losses including lost earnings, treatment costs, costs of care and costs to adapt your home.
How can we help?
If you think you may have a delayed diagnosis claim, you may be entitled to claim compensation. If you have lost a loved one to cancer and you think it could have been avoided, you may be able to make a claim. This is known as a claim for “loss of society”.