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Medical Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Claims

A misdiagnosis can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for you and your family.

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I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

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Poor medical treatment can lead to devastating consequences.
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Making a misdiagnosis claim

Whenever you visit a medical professional, you should be able to feel confident that the treatment you receive will be thorough, considered and appropriate. A doctor’s medical opinion is supposedly the most trustworthy opinion there is, after all. That could well be why cases of medical misdiagnosis are often so distressing for the victim. Misdiagnosis can often have serious – even fatal – consequences. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include IBS, diabetes and ADHD, although there have been cases where illnesses as severe as cancer or meningitis have been similarly misdiagnosed.

If you have been a victim of medical misdiagnosis, it’s time to talk to Your Legal Friend. We have years of experience working on medical negligence cases, many of which have involved misdiagnosis claims. From a legal point of view, we know how complicated these cases can be. More importantly, we understand that they can leave the victim feeling incredibly vulnerable, even embarrassed. The psychological and emotional effects of medical negligence are often just as damaging as the physical impact. That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We will ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by specialist solicitors, while working alongside experts in the medical field, to guarantee the best results for you.

The time limit on making a misdiagnosis claim

It’s beneficial if you’re quick to pursue a claim as the paperwork will be readily available and the detail of the event will still be ‘fresh’ in your mind, which will help when putting your case together. There is also a three-year time limit from the ‘date of knowledge’ where you learned that a mistake on your doctor’s part led to the pain or suffering you’re now experiencing. Usually, if you attempt to bring a claim after this date, it will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ as per the Limitation Act of 1980, section 11. If you are within the time limit or are unsure as to whether you fall within the time period allowed, you can speak to us and we’ll be able to advise you as best we can based upon the information you’re able to share with us.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

After a free initial phone consultation, a clinical negligence solicitor can get a feel for your circumstances, the problems you face and consequences you’re having to live with. If they feel that something wasn’t done, that should have been, they may go on to request copies of your medical records, with your permission, to assess whether something was missed or to see if a mistake was made. If it looks like a mistake was made, they will then speak to you to discuss whether you wish to pursue a medical negligence claim for compensation.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of misdiagnosis cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a misdiagnosis case.Misdiagnosis claims team

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our misdiagnosis team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value misdiagnosis cases.

If you would like us to advise you as to whether you can pursue a misdiagnosis claim, please call our freephone number or submit your details via the online form and we will contact you to schedule a free initial phone consultation at a time that suits you. If you decide that you want to proceed with a claim, one of our medical malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement*, meaning that in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, and you have co-operated fully with us throughout, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

Your questions... answered

What are the risks of a misdiagnosis?

When an incorrect diagnosis has been made, the underlying condition, which is actually the cause of the symptoms will still be untreated and there could be further health problems as a result of the medications prescribed in error.

When a condition is left completely undiagnosed and untreated, the condition may worsen, greatly increasing the pain and discomfort suffered and prolonging the period of recovery.  In some cases, failure to correctly diagnose can lead to severe disability or loss of life.

Unnecessary treatment can cause its own additional health problems and often includes associated psychological injury.

How long do I have to claim?

If you’ve been affected by misdiagnosis when you had leprosy and would like to make a claim for compensation, you must do so within the timeframe for all medical claims – three years – failing to act before this point means you won’t be able to take a claim forward.

We know that the last thing on your mind when you’ve been diagnosed with leprosy is likely to be making a claim. But we advise our clients to start the leprosy misdiagnosis lawsuit process as soon as possible. This not only means that you are able to move past the experience sooner but it can also help build your case too. When you work with us, we’ll use evidence to support your claims. This could be medical records demonstrating where you were let down by those responsible for your care and a witness statement, detailing your experiences. These are often easier to obtain and complete the sooner you act, helping to support your leprosy misdiagnosis claim.

The starting point of the medical claim time limit can be difficult to understand and we can offer you support here too. The timeframe starts from when you first realised that mistakes had been made, referred to in legal terms as the ‘date of knowledge’. In complex cases, it can be difficult to understand when this occurred. But by listening to your experiences our team of leprosy misdiagnosis lawyers can help you understand exactly how long you have to act.

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What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges which are protective tissue linings or membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.  The infection causes the membranes to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

Two main types of meningitis

It is vital that a diagnosis distinguishes between the two main types of meningitis.

  • Viral meningitis – caused by viruses spread through coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene.
  • Bacterial meningitis - caused by a number of different bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis or Streptococcus pneumonia

Viral meningitis - is usually an unpleasant but relatively mild and less serious condition, that most commonly affects babies and young children. Normally there is a complete recovery from the disease but more severe, long-term symptoms may also result.

Bacterial meningitis - is the more serious form of meningitis and requires immediate expert medical assistance.

A misdiagnosis can occur between the two types of meningitis when the deadly bacterial meningitis is often dismissed as a viral illness by a doctor.  This could mean the appropriate tests, including a CT scan or lumbar puncture, are not carried out to confirm that bacterial meningitis is not the cause.

Meningitis can appear in several forms, including:

  • aseptic meningitis
  • gram negative
  • haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)
  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal
  • staphylococcal
  • tuberculous
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Why does meningitis misdiagnosis occur?

Another sickness or condition is thought to be the cause, often including:

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • Swine Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Flu
  • Jaundice

Sometimes a child may have more than one sickness at a time. A child who developed a cold or flu around the same time as the meningitis bacteria entered the brain should show the signs of the less dangerous sickness  As a result, other symptoms can be overlooked.

Diagnosed as a more serious condition like cancer – treatment for cancer of the brain does not affect the development of meningitis.

What are the dangers of misdiagnosed meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection that can develop rapidly and your child could become seriously ill within hours.  Failure by a GP or hospital doctor to diagnose meningitis quickly and accurately can result in permanent physical and psychological disabilities and, in some instances, the loss of life.

In many cases, meningitis may initially develop without any recognisable symptoms or symptoms that are mistaken for a different condition.  As there are many different types of meningitis, it is crucial that a doctor performs a number of appropriate tests so that a correct diagnosis can be made.

Following recovery from meningitis and septicaemia, you or a loved one may be left with a severe and permanent disability.  When a life-changing, permanent injury, which could have been avoided, is caused by symptoms that were missed, misdiagnosed or mistreated, the impact upon the whole family can be devastating.

Cases of meningitis misdiagnosis can often be complex

Cases of clinical negligence involving the misdiagnosis or substandard treatment of meningitis can often be complicated, but a hospital trust has a legal ‘Duty of Candour’ to both inform and apologise to patients if mistakes have been made while in their care.

However, it may not always be so straightforward to obtain a proper explanation as to what happened and where the responsibility may lie.

It is vitally important that you seek a legal expert who has specialist knowledge of the key medical issues, together with a sympathetic and sensitive understanding of how everyone involved is affected.

Your Legal Friend has many years of experience in successfully resolving complex clinical negligence cases. We can help you:

  • Find out the reason why you or a member of your family were not given the duty of care you were owed.
  • Secure appropriate compensation to ensure that the financial demands of providing the necessary special care, support, treatment and equipment will be properly met, both now and in the future.
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What is the most common form of meningitis?

This is caused by meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis, septicaemia or both. Septicaemia is the more life-threatening form of the disease and is more dangerous when there are no signs of meningitis.

Babies are at a higher risk of bacterial meningitis than any other age group. They can fall ill with all of the main types of meningitis and septicaemia, including:

  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal, and
  • Hib

Bacterial forms that mostly, but not exclusively, affect newborn babies are:

  • Group B Streptococcal (GBS)
  • Coli
  • Listeria

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk and may develop some of the following symptoms, in any order:

  • high fever
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • refusing to feed
  • agitation and reusing to be picked up
  • drowsiness, floppy and unresponsive
  • rapid breathing   
  • unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
  • pale, blotchy skin,
  • red rash
  • tense, bulging soft spot on the top of the head, known as the ‘fontanelle’
  • stiff neck and sensitivity to light
  • convulsions or seizures

For older children, teenagers and adults,  additional symptoms also include:

  • difficulty waking up
  • confusion and irritability
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck
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How is meningitis diagnosed?

The glass test is a quick first test you can carry out immediately at home. If a rash appears, press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.  A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure could be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.

A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure might first appear as a few small spots or “pinpricks” on any part of the body. The condition often spreads rapidly and begins to look like fresh bruising as blood leaks into tissue under the skin.

It is vital to get immediate medical help if you or anyone in your family show any symptoms of meningitis.

What are the clinical tests for meningitis?

If a patient is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform several key clinical tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

  • Lumbar puncture – also called a “spinal tap”, in which spinal fluid is collected for testing.
  • CT scan of the head
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood culture analysis

How is meningitis treated?

The treatment for severe bacterial meningitis will frequently require hospital treatment.

A variety of regular treatments will include:

  • Antibiotics 
  • Anti-convulsants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Paracetamol
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Fluid control
  • Blood tests 
  • Sedatives

Complications of bacterial meningitis include:

  • Brain damage
  • Build-up of fluid between the skull and brain
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures

Permanent brain damage or even death can result if a diagnosis is delayed and brain swelling persists. Further consequences of bacterial meningitis are:

  • Brain damage, itself causing epilepsy, loss of memory or cognitive impairment, deafness.
  • Loss of limb/s - if accompanied by septicaemia.
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What is epilepsy?

Abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an interruption and temporary change to brain signals. This causes sudden, repeated seizures and convulsions, and can lead to a loss of consciousness.

Defining epilepsy by seizure episodes

Epilepsy is a disease of the brain that can be defined by one of the following:

  • At least two unprovoked seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart.
  • One unprovoked seizure and a probability of further seizures occurring over the following 10 years.

Basic types of epileptic seizures

There are more than 40 types of seizures, which may be experienced and divided into two groups:

Partial seizures: one part of the brain experiences disturbances - includes jerking movements beginning in the face or hand and spreading to the limbs.

Generalised seizures: the entire brain is affected by disturbances including:

  • impairment of consciousness’ and becoming rigid
  • jerking with ‘impairment of consciousness’
  • fixed staring for a few seconds
  • a brief contraction of the limbs
  • a brief loss of muscle tone associated with falls.
  • Prior to complex partial seizures, unexpected tastes or smells may be experienced.
  • A continuous seizure or recurrent seizures without regaining consciousness can last for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Following a seizure, residual symptoms such as drowsiness, amnesia, or headaches may be experienced.
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What are the dangers of misdiagnosed epilepsy?

Epilepsy is one of the most common traumas that affect the brain but it can be difficult to diagnose accurately and treat adequately.

“Two-thirds of epilepsy sufferers have no physically identifiable cause.” ( NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)

The causes of epilepsy are numerous and wide-ranging.  In cases of epilepsy misdiagnosis, the symptoms can be confused with other conditions, most commonly a panic attack but also an irregular heartbeat and even a migraine.

In cases where a patient may actually be suffering from epilepsy, the correct form of the condition may not be diagnosed. In other instances, patients are misdiagnosed with epilepsy when they may have a cardiac condition, which remains untreated as long as the misdiagnosis continues.

An epilepsy misdiagnosis could mean patients are given treatment or medication:

  • That doesn’t help them
  • Is harmful and may aggravate their actual condition
  • Leaves the real and unidentified condition untreated

The use of incorrect drugs and treatment prescribed because of a misdiagnosis can potentially be life-threatening and can cause both the patient and their family unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Referral to a specialist...

There are a number of specific symptoms that help to identify different types of epileptic seizures. A GP or doctor should immediately refer a patient suspected of having epilepsy to a specialist for confirmation and to begin appropriate treatment.

If you have good reason to believe that you or a family member has not received the appropriate standard of care through a failure to diagnose and treat epilepsy, and that this has led to further harm and suffering, you need to find out if you have a genuine case of clinical negligence.

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Which common conditions have similar symptoms to epilepsy?

Fainting - may be caused by prolonged standing, changes in posture, pain. Often preceded by feeling faint, lightheadedness, blurring of vision, ringing in the ears.

Panic attacks - more common in people with known anxiety. Caused by stressful situations. May be preceded by fear and breathlessness. Typical symptoms include agitation, hyperventilation, and sometimes spasms affecting the hands.  One key difference between a panic attack and a seizure is that a panic attack usually does not lead to a loss of consciousness.

However, there are further complications associated with these symptoms as hyperventilation can trigger an epileptic attack in people prone to epilepsy and seizures may cause someone to panic.

Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) – affects people with structural heart disease and can be caused by exercise.  Typical symptoms include palpitations, breathlessness, or chest pain.

Non-epileptic attack disorders - more common in women than in men by a ratio of 3:1. Caused by stressful situations.  The symptoms are similar to an epileptic seizure, with side-to-side head or limb movements and prolonged motionless collapse.

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What are the diagnostic tests for epilepsy?

MRI scanning - can identify possible causes such as scarring on the brain.

EEG - electrodes attached to the scalp can help detect unusual brain activity associated with epilepsy. However, readings can be normal in people with epilepsy or may show minor changes in people without epilepsy.

Who is at risk of epilepsy?

It is important for a GP or doctor to take into account if the patient has the following:

  • A family history of epilepsy
  • A genetic condition known to be associated with epilepsy, such as childhood epilepsy syndrome
  • Childhood febrile seizures - convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. Between 2–7% of children with febrile seizures will go on to develop epilepsy.
  • Previous infections affecting the brain or conditions such as a cerebral tumour
  • A brain trauma, especially a penetrating brain injury or surgery.

Misdiagnosis of epilepsy – a claim for negligence?

Epilepsy is difficult to diagnose because:

  • There is no conclusive test to diagnose the condition.
  • The person affected may have no recollection of the seizure episodes, which makes it difficult to describe the experience to a doctor.
  • Epilepsy is caused by a large number of factors with a variety of triggers.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy is an infectious disease that’s been around since ancient times. Hundreds of thousands of people are affected worldwide but it’s rare in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Historically, leprosy has been a disease that’s terrified civilizations and has negative stigmas attached to those suffering, including being outcast. However, with modern medicine and treatment, it’s a disease that’s curable, without any lasting effects occurring if it’s delivered quickly.

For this reason, missed leprosy diagnosis can be serious and lead to those affected living with life-altering side effects because of the delay in treatment. Those that have experienced a delay in diagnosis of leprosy may be able to make a compensation claim against those responsible.

There are different types of leprosy and the one that you’re diagnosed with can affect the treatment that you’re given.

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Is it still possible to be infected with leprosy?

Leprosy is often considered a medical condition that has long been eradicated in the UK. But, while rare, it is still possible to be infected with the disease, which has serious complications if left untreated. Leprosy can be completely cured with the swift delivery of medication and leave no lasting effects. However, where vital treatment is delayed it can cause severe, debilitating disabilities.

Finding out that you have leprosy at any point can be terrifying but discovering the disease is the cause of your symptoms after being misdiagnosed can make it even more difficult to come to terms with. Patients that have been let down by the medical system can often feel vulnerable and unsure of where to turn to for advice. Leprosy misdiagnosis compensation can help those that have been affected, not only offering them financial support but giving them answers too.

What are the symptoms of leprosy?

Leprosy affects two main areas of the body – the skin and the nerves outside the brain and spinal cords. In most cases, leprosy takes years to develop after initially coming into contact with the disease, with noticeable symptoms usually taking around three years to develop but in some cases, the signs of leprosy aren’t evident until up to 20 years later. The gradual nature of the disease means it can be easy for leprosy misdiagnosis to occur as it typically won’t be linked to the time period when the patient first became infected.

Often the first signs that people notice are on their skin. These may include skin sores, lumps, or bumps that do not heal or disappear even after several weeks or months. The skin sores of leprosy are lighter than your normal skin tone.

As the disease also affects and damages the nerves, other symptoms may include a loss of feeling in the limbs and muscle weakness. The disease may also affect the eyes and the tissue that lines the inside of the nose, resulting in vision loss, frequent nosebleeds and feeling congested.

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What causes leprosy?

Leprosy is the result of a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. While there are very few cases of people in the UK catching and spreading leprosy in modern times, it’s possible to pick up the infection while abroad, where the disease is more common, such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, or Nigeria.

Leprosy is spread through close and repeated contact with someone who has untreated, severe leprosy. It’s most likely to develop in children but it’s also possible for adults to develop the condition.

Can I claim for a leprosy misdiagnosis?

You may be able to make a claim for misdiagnosis of leprosy compensation if you did not receive the standard of care you should have while suffering. Misdiagnosis of the condition can occur in multiple ways and you’ll need to demonstrate that there was a missed opportunity for an accurate diagnosis. For leprosy, this could show:

  • That your doctor did not properly examine and assess your symptoms
  • That your doctor did not order any tests to determine the cause of skin lesions
  • That your test results were read wrongly
  • That abnormalities in test results were not followed-up
  • That biopsy results were negative but a follow-up skin smear was not ordered despite symptoms indicating leprosy
  • There was an unnecessary delay in the diagnosis or treatment being delivered for leprosy

To be able to make a misdiagnosis of leprosy compensation claim you’ll also need to be able to show that it led to undue suffering. This could range from the stress of having an undiagnosed condition to a lifelong disability caused by untreated leprosy.

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How much compensation will I get?

All leprosy misdiagnosis claims are different and this is reflected in the compensation that each claimant receives. We’ll take a wide range of factors into consideration when placing a value on your claim, ensuring the compensation you could receive accurately reflects the undue suffering that you’ve experienced.

For instance, those that have suffered minor nerve damage to their limbs will receive less compensation that someone who has lost their vision or needed a limb amputated due to the complications of misdiagnosed leprosy. We’ll take the time to listen to your experiences, ensuring we understand the full impact misdiagnosis has had on you and the severity of your condition. Using our legal experience, we’ll then give your case a value.

Leprosy misdiagnosis malpractice claims can also consider general damages. This can include areas such as lost earnings due to being unable to work and travel expenses.

While we can’t tell you how much your misdiagnosed leprosy lawsuit could be worth without first speaking to you, it could amount to thousands. Every year the NHS is forced to pay out millions to those patients that have been affected by medical negligence, including those that were misdiagnosed.

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How is leprosy diagnosed?

If you’re affected by leprosy your first medical visit is likely to be your GP with concerns about skin lesions. Your doctor should look at the affected areas of skin and ask you about other symptoms you may have.

If you have a suspicious skin sore, you’ll likely have a biopsy conducted. This is where a small sample of the affected tissue is removed and sent to a lab for further testing. In most cases, a biopsy will show that bacteria is present and rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. However, some forms of leprosy are not diagnosable through a biopsy so you may also have a skin smear, which will detect and highlight leprosy as the cause. 

Due to leprosy being uncommon in the UK, leprosy misdiagnosis cases do occur. In fact, some medical professionals have previously commented that the disease is commonly misdiagnosed here because its rarity means it’s often overlooked, resulting in misdiagnosed leprosy stories.

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How is leprosy treated?

Leprosy can be cured, usually with antibiotics. In some cases, antibiotics may need to be taken for extended periods of time, such as for up to a year, to completely be rid of the disease. There are different medications that can be given for the disease, sometimes in combination, and which one you’re treated with will depend on the type of leprosy that you have been diagnosed with.

While treatment can completely cure leprosy, it can’t reverse the nerve damage that the condition may have caused and there are other complications associated with the disease too. It’s for this reason that a delay in leprosy diagnosis can be serious, leading to complications that can’t be treated and may leave those suffering with life-changing effects. If you’ve experienced undiagnosed leprosy, despite seeking medical advice, you may be able to make a failure to diagnose leprosy claim to reflect the undue harm delayed treatment has resulted in.

What conditions can leprosy be misdiagnosed as?

The symptoms of the condition mean that it’s possible for misdiagnosis of leprosy to occur, as the signs mimic other medical issues, particularly symptoms that affect the skin.

Common conditions that misdiagnosed leprosy may be labelled as, include:

  • Skin infections
  • Eczema
  • Syphilis
  • Vitiligo
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Erythema nodosum
  • Erythema multiforme

While the symptoms of leprosy can be diagnosed as another condition, tests and lack of effective treatment should highlight where wrong leprosy diagnosis has occurred. The wrong diagnosis of leprosy can have a serious impact on how easy it is to treat and allow complications linked to the disease to develop further, some of which may be irreversible. Late leprosy diagnosis may be able to form the basis of a compensation claim.

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What are the complications of misdiagnosed leprosy?

When diagnosed and treated during the early stages, there are usually no lasting effects of leprosy. However, cases of misdiagnosis of leprosy or incidences where treatment has been delayed, mean that complications are allowed to develop. In some cases, these complications can lead to lifelong disabilities.

Complications associated with misdiagnosed leprosy cases include:

  • Sensory loss
  • Muscle weakness, that can lead to claw-like hands
  • Disfigurement
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic nasal congestion and collapse of the nasal septum
  • Permeant nerve damage
  • Iritis – inflammation of the iris of the eye
  • Blindness
  • Amputation of limbs due to nerve damage
  • Kidney failure

The severe extent of the complications that can be caused by untreated leprosy highlight the need for a fast diagnosis. GP misdiagnosis leprosy can mean that complications are more likely to occur, giving them a longer period to progress before vital treatment is delivered.

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When an incorrect diagnosis has been made, the underlying condition, which is actually the cause of the symptoms will still be untreated and there could be further health problems as a result of the medications prescribed in error.

When a condition is left completely undiagnosed and untreated, the condition may worsen, greatly increasing the pain and discomfort suffered and prolonging the period of recovery.  In some cases, failure to correctly diagnose can lead to severe disability or loss of life.

Unnecessary treatment can cause its own additional health problems and often includes associated psychological injury.

If you’ve been affected by misdiagnosis when you had leprosy and would like to make a claim for compensation, you must do so within the timeframe for all medical claims – three years – failing to act before this point means you won’t be able to take a claim forward.

We know that the last thing on your mind when you’ve been diagnosed with leprosy is likely to be making a claim. But we advise our clients to start the leprosy misdiagnosis lawsuit process as soon as possible. This not only means that you are able to move past the experience sooner but it can also help build your case too. When you work with us, we’ll use evidence to support your claims. This could be medical records demonstrating where you were let down by those responsible for your care and a witness statement, detailing your experiences. These are often easier to obtain and complete the sooner you act, helping to support your leprosy misdiagnosis claim.

The starting point of the medical claim time limit can be difficult to understand and we can offer you support here too. The timeframe starts from when you first realised that mistakes had been made, referred to in legal terms as the ‘date of knowledge’. In complex cases, it can be difficult to understand when this occurred. But by listening to your experiences our team of leprosy misdiagnosis lawyers can help you understand exactly how long you have to act.

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Meningitis is an infection of the meninges which are protective tissue linings or membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.  The infection causes the membranes to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

Two main types of meningitis

It is vital that a diagnosis distinguishes between the two main types of meningitis.

  • Viral meningitis – caused by viruses spread through coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene.
  • Bacterial meningitis - caused by a number of different bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis or Streptococcus pneumonia

Viral meningitis - is usually an unpleasant but relatively mild and less serious condition, that most commonly affects babies and young children. Normally there is a complete recovery from the disease but more severe, long-term symptoms may also result.

Bacterial meningitis - is the more serious form of meningitis and requires immediate expert medical assistance.

A misdiagnosis can occur between the two types of meningitis when the deadly bacterial meningitis is often dismissed as a viral illness by a doctor.  This could mean the appropriate tests, including a CT scan or lumbar puncture, are not carried out to confirm that bacterial meningitis is not the cause.

Meningitis can appear in several forms, including:

  • aseptic meningitis
  • gram negative
  • haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)
  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal
  • staphylococcal
  • tuberculous
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Another sickness or condition is thought to be the cause, often including:

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • Swine Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Flu
  • Jaundice

Sometimes a child may have more than one sickness at a time. A child who developed a cold or flu around the same time as the meningitis bacteria entered the brain should show the signs of the less dangerous sickness  As a result, other symptoms can be overlooked.

Diagnosed as a more serious condition like cancer – treatment for cancer of the brain does not affect the development of meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection that can develop rapidly and your child could become seriously ill within hours.  Failure by a GP or hospital doctor to diagnose meningitis quickly and accurately can result in permanent physical and psychological disabilities and, in some instances, the loss of life.

In many cases, meningitis may initially develop without any recognisable symptoms or symptoms that are mistaken for a different condition.  As there are many different types of meningitis, it is crucial that a doctor performs a number of appropriate tests so that a correct diagnosis can be made.

Following recovery from meningitis and septicaemia, you or a loved one may be left with a severe and permanent disability.  When a life-changing, permanent injury, which could have been avoided, is caused by symptoms that were missed, misdiagnosed or mistreated, the impact upon the whole family can be devastating.

Cases of meningitis misdiagnosis can often be complex

Cases of clinical negligence involving the misdiagnosis or substandard treatment of meningitis can often be complicated, but a hospital trust has a legal ‘Duty of Candour’ to both inform and apologise to patients if mistakes have been made while in their care.

However, it may not always be so straightforward to obtain a proper explanation as to what happened and where the responsibility may lie.

It is vitally important that you seek a legal expert who has specialist knowledge of the key medical issues, together with a sympathetic and sensitive understanding of how everyone involved is affected.

Your Legal Friend has many years of experience in successfully resolving complex clinical negligence cases. We can help you:

  • Find out the reason why you or a member of your family were not given the duty of care you were owed.
  • Secure appropriate compensation to ensure that the financial demands of providing the necessary special care, support, treatment and equipment will be properly met, both now and in the future.
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This is caused by meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis, septicaemia or both. Septicaemia is the more life-threatening form of the disease and is more dangerous when there are no signs of meningitis.

Babies are at a higher risk of bacterial meningitis than any other age group. They can fall ill with all of the main types of meningitis and septicaemia, including:

  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal, and
  • Hib

Bacterial forms that mostly, but not exclusively, affect newborn babies are:

  • Group B Streptococcal (GBS)
  • Coli
  • Listeria

Babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk and may develop some of the following symptoms, in any order:

  • high fever
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • refusing to feed
  • agitation and reusing to be picked up
  • drowsiness, floppy and unresponsive
  • rapid breathing   
  • unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
  • pale, blotchy skin,
  • red rash
  • tense, bulging soft spot on the top of the head, known as the ‘fontanelle’
  • stiff neck and sensitivity to light
  • convulsions or seizures

For older children, teenagers and adults,  additional symptoms also include:

  • difficulty waking up
  • confusion and irritability
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck
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The glass test is a quick first test you can carry out immediately at home. If a rash appears, press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.  A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure could be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.

A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure might first appear as a few small spots or “pinpricks” on any part of the body. The condition often spreads rapidly and begins to look like fresh bruising as blood leaks into tissue under the skin.

It is vital to get immediate medical help if you or anyone in your family show any symptoms of meningitis.

If a patient is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform several key clinical tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

  • Lumbar puncture – also called a “spinal tap”, in which spinal fluid is collected for testing.
  • CT scan of the head
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood culture analysis

The treatment for severe bacterial meningitis will frequently require hospital treatment.

A variety of regular treatments will include:

  • Antibiotics 
  • Anti-convulsants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Paracetamol
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Fluid control
  • Blood tests 
  • Sedatives

Complications of bacterial meningitis include:

  • Brain damage
  • Build-up of fluid between the skull and brain
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures

Permanent brain damage or even death can result if a diagnosis is delayed and brain swelling persists. Further consequences of bacterial meningitis are:

  • Brain damage, itself causing epilepsy, loss of memory or cognitive impairment, deafness.
  • Loss of limb/s - if accompanied by septicaemia.
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Abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an interruption and temporary change to brain signals. This causes sudden, repeated seizures and convulsions, and can lead to a loss of consciousness.

Defining epilepsy by seizure episodes

Epilepsy is a disease of the brain that can be defined by one of the following:

  • At least two unprovoked seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart.
  • One unprovoked seizure and a probability of further seizures occurring over the following 10 years.

Basic types of epileptic seizures

There are more than 40 types of seizures, which may be experienced and divided into two groups:

Partial seizures: one part of the brain experiences disturbances - includes jerking movements beginning in the face or hand and spreading to the limbs.

Generalised seizures: the entire brain is affected by disturbances including:

  • impairment of consciousness’ and becoming rigid
  • jerking with ‘impairment of consciousness’
  • fixed staring for a few seconds
  • a brief contraction of the limbs
  • a brief loss of muscle tone associated with falls.
  • Prior to complex partial seizures, unexpected tastes or smells may be experienced.
  • A continuous seizure or recurrent seizures without regaining consciousness can last for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Following a seizure, residual symptoms such as drowsiness, amnesia, or headaches may be experienced.
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Epilepsy is one of the most common traumas that affect the brain but it can be difficult to diagnose accurately and treat adequately.

“Two-thirds of epilepsy sufferers have no physically identifiable cause.” ( NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)

The causes of epilepsy are numerous and wide-ranging.  In cases of epilepsy misdiagnosis, the symptoms can be confused with other conditions, most commonly a panic attack but also an irregular heartbeat and even a migraine.

In cases where a patient may actually be suffering from epilepsy, the correct form of the condition may not be diagnosed. In other instances, patients are misdiagnosed with epilepsy when they may have a cardiac condition, which remains untreated as long as the misdiagnosis continues.

An epilepsy misdiagnosis could mean patients are given treatment or medication:

  • That doesn’t help them
  • Is harmful and may aggravate their actual condition
  • Leaves the real and unidentified condition untreated

The use of incorrect drugs and treatment prescribed because of a misdiagnosis can potentially be life-threatening and can cause both the patient and their family unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Referral to a specialist...

There are a number of specific symptoms that help to identify different types of epileptic seizures. A GP or doctor should immediately refer a patient suspected of having epilepsy to a specialist for confirmation and to begin appropriate treatment.

If you have good reason to believe that you or a family member has not received the appropriate standard of care through a failure to diagnose and treat epilepsy, and that this has led to further harm and suffering, you need to find out if you have a genuine case of clinical negligence.

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Fainting - may be caused by prolonged standing, changes in posture, pain. Often preceded by feeling faint, lightheadedness, blurring of vision, ringing in the ears.

Panic attacks - more common in people with known anxiety. Caused by stressful situations. May be preceded by fear and breathlessness. Typical symptoms include agitation, hyperventilation, and sometimes spasms affecting the hands.  One key difference between a panic attack and a seizure is that a panic attack usually does not lead to a loss of consciousness.

However, there are further complications associated with these symptoms as hyperventilation can trigger an epileptic attack in people prone to epilepsy and seizures may cause someone to panic.

Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) – affects people with structural heart disease and can be caused by exercise.  Typical symptoms include palpitations, breathlessness, or chest pain.

Non-epileptic attack disorders - more common in women than in men by a ratio of 3:1. Caused by stressful situations.  The symptoms are similar to an epileptic seizure, with side-to-side head or limb movements and prolonged motionless collapse.

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MRI scanning - can identify possible causes such as scarring on the brain.

EEG - electrodes attached to the scalp can help detect unusual brain activity associated with epilepsy. However, readings can be normal in people with epilepsy or may show minor changes in people without epilepsy.

It is important for a GP or doctor to take into account if the patient has the following:

  • A family history of epilepsy
  • A genetic condition known to be associated with epilepsy, such as childhood epilepsy syndrome
  • Childhood febrile seizures - convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. Between 2–7% of children with febrile seizures will go on to develop epilepsy.
  • Previous infections affecting the brain or conditions such as a cerebral tumour
  • A brain trauma, especially a penetrating brain injury or surgery.

Epilepsy is difficult to diagnose because:

  • There is no conclusive test to diagnose the condition.
  • The person affected may have no recollection of the seizure episodes, which makes it difficult to describe the experience to a doctor.
  • Epilepsy is caused by a large number of factors with a variety of triggers.

Leprosy is an infectious disease that’s been around since ancient times. Hundreds of thousands of people are affected worldwide but it’s rare in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Historically, leprosy has been a disease that’s terrified civilizations and has negative stigmas attached to those suffering, including being outcast. However, with modern medicine and treatment, it’s a disease that’s curable, without any lasting effects occurring if it’s delivered quickly.

For this reason, missed leprosy diagnosis can be serious and lead to those affected living with life-altering side effects because of the delay in treatment. Those that have experienced a delay in diagnosis of leprosy may be able to make a compensation claim against those responsible.

There are different types of leprosy and the one that you’re diagnosed with can affect the treatment that you’re given.

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Leprosy is often considered a medical condition that has long been eradicated in the UK. But, while rare, it is still possible to be infected with the disease, which has serious complications if left untreated. Leprosy can be completely cured with the swift delivery of medication and leave no lasting effects. However, where vital treatment is delayed it can cause severe, debilitating disabilities.

Finding out that you have leprosy at any point can be terrifying but discovering the disease is the cause of your symptoms after being misdiagnosed can make it even more difficult to come to terms with. Patients that have been let down by the medical system can often feel vulnerable and unsure of where to turn to for advice. Leprosy misdiagnosis compensation can help those that have been affected, not only offering them financial support but giving them answers too.

Leprosy affects two main areas of the body – the skin and the nerves outside the brain and spinal cords. In most cases, leprosy takes years to develop after initially coming into contact with the disease, with noticeable symptoms usually taking around three years to develop but in some cases, the signs of leprosy aren’t evident until up to 20 years later. The gradual nature of the disease means it can be easy for leprosy misdiagnosis to occur as it typically won’t be linked to the time period when the patient first became infected.

Often the first signs that people notice are on their skin. These may include skin sores, lumps, or bumps that do not heal or disappear even after several weeks or months. The skin sores of leprosy are lighter than your normal skin tone.

As the disease also affects and damages the nerves, other symptoms may include a loss of feeling in the limbs and muscle weakness. The disease may also affect the eyes and the tissue that lines the inside of the nose, resulting in vision loss, frequent nosebleeds and feeling congested.

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Leprosy is the result of a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. While there are very few cases of people in the UK catching and spreading leprosy in modern times, it’s possible to pick up the infection while abroad, where the disease is more common, such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, or Nigeria.

Leprosy is spread through close and repeated contact with someone who has untreated, severe leprosy. It’s most likely to develop in children but it’s also possible for adults to develop the condition.

You may be able to make a claim for misdiagnosis of leprosy compensation if you did not receive the standard of care you should have while suffering. Misdiagnosis of the condition can occur in multiple ways and you’ll need to demonstrate that there was a missed opportunity for an accurate diagnosis. For leprosy, this could show:

  • That your doctor did not properly examine and assess your symptoms
  • That your doctor did not order any tests to determine the cause of skin lesions
  • That your test results were read wrongly
  • That abnormalities in test results were not followed-up
  • That biopsy results were negative but a follow-up skin smear was not ordered despite symptoms indicating leprosy
  • There was an unnecessary delay in the diagnosis or treatment being delivered for leprosy

To be able to make a misdiagnosis of leprosy compensation claim you’ll also need to be able to show that it led to undue suffering. This could range from the stress of having an undiagnosed condition to a lifelong disability caused by untreated leprosy.

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All leprosy misdiagnosis claims are different and this is reflected in the compensation that each claimant receives. We’ll take a wide range of factors into consideration when placing a value on your claim, ensuring the compensation you could receive accurately reflects the undue suffering that you’ve experienced.

For instance, those that have suffered minor nerve damage to their limbs will receive less compensation that someone who has lost their vision or needed a limb amputated due to the complications of misdiagnosed leprosy. We’ll take the time to listen to your experiences, ensuring we understand the full impact misdiagnosis has had on you and the severity of your condition. Using our legal experience, we’ll then give your case a value.

Leprosy misdiagnosis malpractice claims can also consider general damages. This can include areas such as lost earnings due to being unable to work and travel expenses.

While we can’t tell you how much your misdiagnosed leprosy lawsuit could be worth without first speaking to you, it could amount to thousands. Every year the NHS is forced to pay out millions to those patients that have been affected by medical negligence, including those that were misdiagnosed.

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If you’re affected by leprosy your first medical visit is likely to be your GP with concerns about skin lesions. Your doctor should look at the affected areas of skin and ask you about other symptoms you may have.

If you have a suspicious skin sore, you’ll likely have a biopsy conducted. This is where a small sample of the affected tissue is removed and sent to a lab for further testing. In most cases, a biopsy will show that bacteria is present and rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. However, some forms of leprosy are not diagnosable through a biopsy so you may also have a skin smear, which will detect and highlight leprosy as the cause. 

Due to leprosy being uncommon in the UK, leprosy misdiagnosis cases do occur. In fact, some medical professionals have previously commented that the disease is commonly misdiagnosed here because its rarity means it’s often overlooked, resulting in misdiagnosed leprosy stories.

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Leprosy can be cured, usually with antibiotics. In some cases, antibiotics may need to be taken for extended periods of time, such as for up to a year, to completely be rid of the disease. There are different medications that can be given for the disease, sometimes in combination, and which one you’re treated with will depend on the type of leprosy that you have been diagnosed with.

While treatment can completely cure leprosy, it can’t reverse the nerve damage that the condition may have caused and there are other complications associated with the disease too. It’s for this reason that a delay in leprosy diagnosis can be serious, leading to complications that can’t be treated and may leave those suffering with life-changing effects. If you’ve experienced undiagnosed leprosy, despite seeking medical advice, you may be able to make a failure to diagnose leprosy claim to reflect the undue harm delayed treatment has resulted in.

The symptoms of the condition mean that it’s possible for misdiagnosis of leprosy to occur, as the signs mimic other medical issues, particularly symptoms that affect the skin.

Common conditions that misdiagnosed leprosy may be labelled as, include:

  • Skin infections
  • Eczema
  • Syphilis
  • Vitiligo
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Erythema nodosum
  • Erythema multiforme

While the symptoms of leprosy can be diagnosed as another condition, tests and lack of effective treatment should highlight where wrong leprosy diagnosis has occurred. The wrong diagnosis of leprosy can have a serious impact on how easy it is to treat and allow complications linked to the disease to develop further, some of which may be irreversible. Late leprosy diagnosis may be able to form the basis of a compensation claim.

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When diagnosed and treated during the early stages, there are usually no lasting effects of leprosy. However, cases of misdiagnosis of leprosy or incidences where treatment has been delayed, mean that complications are allowed to develop. In some cases, these complications can lead to lifelong disabilities.

Complications associated with misdiagnosed leprosy cases include:

  • Sensory loss
  • Muscle weakness, that can lead to claw-like hands
  • Disfigurement
  • Hair loss
  • Chronic nasal congestion and collapse of the nasal septum
  • Permeant nerve damage
  • Iritis – inflammation of the iris of the eye
  • Blindness
  • Amputation of limbs due to nerve damage
  • Kidney failure

The severe extent of the complications that can be caused by untreated leprosy highlight the need for a fast diagnosis. GP misdiagnosis leprosy can mean that complications are more likely to occur, giving them a longer period to progress before vital treatment is delivered.

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More about us and our services

Mr Williams' story

10th July 2017

In this story we hear from David Williams, who tragically lost his wife Delyth to cancer which developed after their local NHS Trust failed to repeat an X-ray.

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