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Failure to diagnose &
misdiagnosis of leukemia claims

Failure to diagnose & misdiagnosis of leukemia claims

How much can you claim?

A 39 year old man's leukemia was misdiagnosed as thrombosis in his calf. By the time his cancer was treated, it had spread to his spine. He was awarded:


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Claiming for leukemia negligence

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with leukaemia it can be a very troubling time. Fortunately, most patients in the UK have access to excellent medical care that gives them the best chance possible of beating the disease. However, if you believe that your treatment has been delayed or you have suffered a misdiagnosis and fear that your outcome could be worse as a result you may wish to speak to us about how we can help.

Leukaemia and childhood leukaemia are serious conditions. Those who are affected should be able to rely on health professionals to look after them properly, conducting all the necessary tests and recommending treatment to give the best possible outcome. .. If you’ve been affected and are looking for answers we may be able to help you. Our team of specialist medical negligence solicitors have worked with others in a similar situation and could use their skills to support you.

Investigating a claim for medical negligence can get you answers, help you move on to the next chapter and focus on your recovery. With our expertise of this area of law we can guide and support you every step of the way. We hope that this will help stop others experiencing what you have been through.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a leukemia claim

If you would like to make a claim for leukaemia misdiagnosis compensation, we recommend that you start the process as soon as possible. We know that while undergoing treatment or recovering from leukaemia it’s likely to be the last thing on your mind but getting the ball rolling sooner can make it easier. Not only does it mean that if successful, you’ll receive compensation  sooner but the details used to support your case will still be fresher in your mind and records and scans easier to access.

While getting started as soon as possible is preferable, you do have 3 years to make a medical negligence claim. The claim must be commenced in court within 3 years of the diagnosis.  However it takes time to investigate before going to court so it is better to consult us early on.  The  ‘date of knowledge’ or diagnosis in your case may not be clear and so  we will help you understand the process and the next steps you and can take.

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.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of cancer negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
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

Our leukemia negligence experience

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

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 cancer negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value leukemia negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

If you’d like advice as to whether you might be able to pursue a cancer negligence claim, either call our freephone number or submit your details through the form on this page and we’ll be in touch to schedule a phone call at a time that’s convenient for you. If you decide that you’d like to start 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, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.

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

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your leukemia negligence claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard leukemia negligence claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The leukemia negligence claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you. 

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery. You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury.  To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss.  As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court.  These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge.  The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case.  We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for a leukemia misdiagnosis?

If you or a loved one has suffered with leukaemia and were let down by the healthcare system you may be able to make a leukaemia malpractice claim. In order to be successful, you will need to prove that a misdiagnosis led to additional pain and suffering, such as prolonged treatment, the need for further procedures, or a shortened life expectancy.

There are several ways to demonstrate that you have received substandard care to support a misdiagnosis of leukaemia claim, including:

  • The GP failing to arrange the necessary tests after presenting with symptoms suggestive of leukaemia
  • A delay in tests or treatment beginning for unnecessary reasons.
  • Tests results being read inaccurately, leading to a misdiagnosis.
  • The incorrect treatment being recommended for your case.
  • Tests results showing abnormalities not being followed-up for further testing.

How much compensation will I get?

Every claim is  different, as it reflects the pain and suffering you have personally experienced and the financial losses you have incurred or will suffer in the future.

When you start a failure to diagnose leukaemia claim, our expert team will take the time to understand your experience and its full impact on your life. From here we will value your case and seek the compensation you are entitled to.

How long do I have to make a claim?

If you believe you have a medical negligence case arising from your  leukaemia diagnosis  you have 3 years to make a claim from the ‘date of knowledge’ or the date on which you were diagnosed..

If you’re unsure you can contact our expert and knowledgeable team today, they’ll help you pinpoint when you must make a claim by and advise you on the next steps you should take.

While you do have 3 years to make a failure to diagnose leukaemia claim, we recommend that you start the process as soon as possible as it can make it easier to access the information to support your case.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What is leukemia?

Leukaemia is cancer of the blood. The cancer starts in blood-forming tissue, most commonly the bone marrow. The cancer means that white blood cells can become abnormal, these cells are part of the body’s immune system. There are many different types of leukaemia and the treatment and prognosis given often depends on the type of cancer a patient has.

Leukaemia is often associated with childhood cancers, as around a third of children that are diagnosed with cancer will have a form of leukaemia. However, it’s still very rare for children to develop leukaemia.

What causes leukemia?

Leukaemia is caused when white blood cells began to behave abnormally. There are a number of factors that have been linked to causing these cells to mutate and become cancerous.

Causes of leukaemia varies between the different types and in some cases, it’s not possible to determine a cause. Risk factors of developing the disease include:

  • Radiation exposure – Radiation exposure can increase the risk of some types of leukaemia developing. However, the exposure must occur in significant doses and it’s very rare for this to be a risk factor in the UK.
  • Benzene and smoking – The chemical benzene can trigger cells to begin acting abnormally. Benzene is found in cigarette smoke.
  • Previous treatment for cancer – If you’ve previously had cancer that’s been treated with radiotherapy or some types of chemotherapy you may be at risk of developing leukaemia.
  • Blood disorders – Certain blood disorders, including myelodysplasia, myelofibrosis, and polycythaemia vera, have been linked to some types of blood cancer.
  • Genetic disorders – Some cases are of leukaemia are thought to be related to genetic disorders, including Down’s syndrome.
  • Being obese – People that are very overweight have a slightly higher risk of developing leukaemia.  
  • Having a weakened immune system – Having a weakened immune system, whether a result of another condition or taking immunosuppressants, can increase the risk of leukaemia.

What causes leukemia in children?

Leukaemia is the most common type of childhood cancer in the world. It is often not possible to know the exact causes of child leukaemia and most children affected do not have any known risk factors.

What are the symptoms of leukemia?

Leukaemia symptoms usually starts slowly with the signs gradually becoming worse over a period of weeks, this is as more abnormal white blood cells enter the bloodstream causing a lack of healthy blood cells.  

Signs of leukaemia can vary depending on the type of cancer you have but can include:

  • Pale skin
  • Tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • A high temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual and frequent bleeding, for example, nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Flat red and purple spots on the skin known as petechiae
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Abdominal pain

If the cancer spreads to your nervous system it can also cause other leukaemia signs and symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, vomiting, blurred vision, and dizziness. While it’s unlikely that these signs are leukaemia the NHS recommends making an appointment with a GP if you notice the symptoms in order for them to be investigated further.

What are the symptoms in children?

Symptoms of leukaemia in children are the same as those found in adults. Often the first sign parents notice in their children when leukaemia has developed is fatigue and tiredness with easy bleeding and bruising often being highlighted too.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

How is leukemia diagnosed?

When you visit your GP with the signs of leukaemia and they suspect that it could be cancer the first step taken is usually a leukaemia diagnosis blood test. The blood test will measure the amount of abnormal white blood cells. A high number of these cells could indicate the presence of leukaemia.

Leukaemia is a serious condition and could require urgent treatment. If the initial blood tests indicate the possibility of leukaemia you should be referred quickly. In order to achieve a leukaemia diagnosis a specialist in treating blood conditions, a haematologist, may carry out further blood tests.

Other tests that may be conducted when diagnosing leukaemia include:

  • Bone marrow biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is usually carried out under local anaesthetic and involves taking a sample of the bone marrow. The bone marrow that has been removed can then be examined under a microscope to look for cancerous cells. At this stage, it’s often possible to tell the type of leukaemia a patient has.

  • Genetic testing

In some cases, doctors may conduct generic tests on blood and bone marrow samples. This is to identify possible genetic variations that could have an impact on the best treatment option for you.

  • Scans

Scans, such as an x-ray or CT scan, can be used to assess a patient’s general health before deciding on the course of treatment. They can also be used to see if the cancer has spread to other organs.

  • Lumbar puncture

A lumbar puncture is used to see if the cancer has spread to the nervous system. The procedure extracts a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the back so that it too can be tested for cancerous treatment. If the cancer has spread, it can alter your treatment plan.

  • Lymph node biopsy

Some cases of leukaemia can lead to lymph glands swelling. If this has happened it may be necessary to remove and examine the lymph node to assess and diagnose leukaemia.

Can leukemia be misdiagnosed?

Most patients that have leukaemia will receive the standard of care expected and will receive an accurate diagnosis as quick as possible. However, there are times when the disease can be misdiagnosed. This misdiagnosis of leukaemia can have a serious impact on the success of treatment and patient outcome. It can occur if your GP fails to order the necessary tests during the initial appointment, if test results are read inaccurately, or if abnormal cells aren’t followed up. Leukaemia misdiagnosis can result in the symptoms being linked to a number of conditions wrongly, including:

  • Leukaemia misdiagnosis fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Some of the condition’s symptoms can be similar to leukaemia, such as fatigue and pain in the abdomen. There’s no specific test for fibromyalgia which can lead to misdiagnosed leukaemia if tests to rule it out are not ordered.

  • Leukaemia misdiagnosis rheumatoid

In some patients leukaemia can cause bone and joint pain that could be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. It can be difficult to diagnose rheumatoid but a blood test may be used and this should identify where the problem lies.

  • Leukaemia misdiagnosis hypothyroidism

An underactive thyroid gland, also known as hypothyroidism, has some similar symptoms to blood cancer that can result in leukaemia wrong diagnosis. However, hypothyroidism can usually be controlled by daily hormone tablets and if that doesn’t relieve the symptoms your doctor should look further into the causes.

How is leukemia treated?

Leukaemia treatment can vary significantly depending on the type of cancer you have. A team of professionals will work together to assess the best option for your case and situation, helping to ensure the best outcome possible. Treatment for leukaemia can both aim to completely cure the disease and prevent cancerous cells from spreading further where a cure isn’t possible.

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)

AML is an aggressive type of cancer and treatment for leukaemia of this type will need to be delivered rapidly. Chemotherapy is the main treatment for AML and it’s used to kill as many of the cancerous cells as possible. Chemo can be combined with radiotherapy and a bone marrow or stem cell transplant to achieve a cure.

  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)

Treatment of leukaemia that is classified as CML tends to focus on slowing down the spread of the disease with medication that stops the cells from multiplying. The condition will be closely monitored and in some cases in may be curable through stem cell transplants.

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Chemotherapy for leukaemia is the main treatment option for this type of cancer. Antibiotics, blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplant may also be needed to create a cure for the disease. Treatment is usually given in 3 stages to kill leukaemia cells, kill the remaining cancerous cells in the nervous system and then prevent the disease from returning.

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

As it progresses slowly, this type of cancer may not need any treatment initially, instead a patient may be recommended to watch for the symptoms and have regular check-ups. If symptoms do start or it’s not diagnosed until a later stage, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia treatment options include chemotherapy and a stem or bone marrow transplant.

What are the different types of leukemia?

There are 4 main types of leukaemia that are defined by their rates of progression and where the cancer starts from. There are other types of leukaemia but these are rare. The 4 most common types of cancer of the blood are:

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) means the cancer develops rapidly and often requires immediate treatment as it can be aggressive. AML occurs when stem cells produce too many immature white blood cells, known as blast cells. While healthy white blood cells can help fight infection, blast cells do not. AML is a rare type of cancer with around 2,600 people diagnosed with the condition in the UK each year.

  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), like AML, affects the white blood cells. However, CML tends to progress slowly over years with symptoms usually only appearing as the cancer develops and in some cases, it is only picked up when unrelated tests are conducted. However, despite the mildness of the signs, CML responds better to treatment the earlier it is diagnosed.

  • Acute lymphocytic leukaemia

Acute lymphocytic leukaemia is aggressive and requires immediate treatment as is can progress rapidly. It’s a rare kind of blood cancer, with just 650 people diagnosed each year in the UK. It acts similar to other leukaemia, where blast cells are released into the blood and reduces a person’s ability to fight bacteria and other infections.

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is similar to the acute version but progresses slowly over many years. The condition can’t normally be cured but it can be controlled with medication for many years.

What is the leukemia survival rate?

The survival rate of leukaemia is improving, which has been attributed to changes in the diagnosis, classification, and registration of the disease. The survival rate for leukaemia can be dependent on many factors, including the age of the patient, the type of leukaemia they have, and the stage that it’s diagnosed at.

Leukaemia statistics from Cancer Research UK suggests that around 68% of adults will survive their diagnosis for more than a year and 46% of adults will do so for 10 years or more. In adults, the chance of surviving the disease for more than 5 years decreases gradually with age.

It’s estimated that the leukaemia in children survival rate is 81%, with most children surviving their diagnosis by 10 years or more.