Medical Negligence
By Conal McGarrity
Latest News

Have You Been Misdiagnosed?

It’s natural to trust your healthcare professional when it comes to finding out what’s wrong. After all, they know best. Unfortunately, mistakes happen and often these mistakes have detrimental consequences. So what does it mean to be Misdiagnosed?

Misdiagnosis is mainly formed by 2 types;

1. Late Diagnosis – can also be known as delayed diagnosis. This happens when a condition or illness is diagnosed at more advanced stage. Unfortunately, this can often prolong treatment, recovery and can result in shorter life expectancy in more serious cases.

2. Incorrect or Missed Diagnosis – This happens when a medical professional diagnosed you with the wrong illness/condition. Possibly resulting in incorrect treatment and the consequences thereof. It is also possible for a healthcare professional to fail to diagnose any problem at all.

In 2018 a report was published which indicated that four out of ten people with cancer in the UK are misdiagnosed at least once before their disease is identified. The report, by the All. Can cancer initiative, warns that one in five (21%) of UK patients surveyed said they waited more than six months to get the correct diagnosis. In 2017 Cancer Research UK warned that 22 per cent of the 356,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year were only picked up at A&E. Moreover, in 71 per cent of these cases, patients had visited their GP at least once with symptoms linked to their cancer. Meaning that opportunities to catch the disease early and minimise its spread had been missed.

Similarly, in 2018 in Republic of Ireland, HSE confirmed 17 women died after they were wrongly given the all-clear. Thos happened after following a smear test with CervicalCheck. Only 2 women out of the 17 were informed of the mistake.

Which Conditions are Commonly Misdiagnosed?

  • Cancer

  • Meningitis

  • Sepsis

  • Diabetes

Illnesses or conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed tend to have symptoms which are difficult to detect, or a lot of the time they are mistaken for something else. Therefore, a misdiagnosis can have devastating effects. As a result, you may be entitled to compensation.

1 in 5 patients misdiagnosed by Dr Michael Watt

Who is Doctor Watt?
Dr Watt is a consultant neurologist in the Belfast health trust who was restricted from seeing patients in June 2017 – a year before it was revealed approximately 3,000 former patients were being re-assessed during to concerns about his work. In early 2019, Dr Watt was suspended from practising medicine.

What Happened?
In 2018 around 3,000 of Dr Watt’s patients were contacted by the Belfast health trust informing them that they required re-assessments following concerns about his work – making it the biggest ever patient recall in Northern Ireland.

It is estimated that 30% of the 3,000 patients may have received an unreliable diagnosis or prescription drugs to treat conditions. It has also been confirmed that almost 600 patients were given an ‘insecure’ diagnosis; misdiagnosis of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease or other neurological conditions. More than 300 patients have been advised that their diagnosis requires to be reviewed. A further 500 have been advised that they were prescribed the wrong medication.

The Spotlight programme revealed that Dr Watt was responsible for a huge spike in the number of epidural blood patches. The surgical procedure that involves injecting a patient’s blood into the epidural space in order to close a hole in the dura matter of the spinal cord. A report by the Department of Health states that almost none of the patients on whom Dr Watt carried out blood patches had the condition he was treating them for.

How we can help?

At PA Duffy and Company our expert Medical Negligence solicitors can advise on the most appropriate approach to take if you suspect you have been a victim of a misdiagnosis or a late diagnosis. Our medical negligence department is vastly experienced in such matters, we have your best interest at heart. We appreciate that this can be an overwhelming and stressful time for you and your family. However, our expertise and sensitivity allow us to advise you through every step of the process ensuring you are fully aware of what is happening whilst providing you with professional advice.

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