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Septic arthritis misdiagnosis &
delayed diagnosis compensation

Septic arthritis misdiagnosis & delayed diagnosis compensation

How much can you claim?

A significant delay in diagnosis of a 13 year old boy's septic arthritis meant he suffered permanent disabling knee pain. At the age of 26, he was forced to leave his job and stop playing rugby which resulted in depression. He was awarded:

£68,300

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


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Claiming for septic arthritis

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

Septic arthritis is a rare but dangerous condition caused by bacteria leading to inflammation in a joint. In most cases, effective treatment can minimise the risks and complications. But those that experience misdiagnosis can be left with life-altering complications and in some cases the condition can even prove fatal.

It’s never easy to undergo treatment for a potentially fatal condition but where misdiagnosis has occurred it can leave patients feeling vulnerable and unsure of who they can trust. For those that have been affected by medical negligence, they may be able to make a claim for compensation, reflecting how those responsible for their care have let them down. We understand that having been affected by medical negligence, deciding to take a compensation case forward can be the last thing on your mind. But doing so can help you move forward.

Many of those let down by the healthcare system responsible for their diagnosis and treatment during a time of need are looking for answers as to why they received a disappointing level of care. Bringing a case forward can help uncover the reasons. A successful claim will also provide you with financial compensation, helping to alleviate money worries that you may have. After experiencing a delay in diagnosing septic arthritis you may be left with life-altering conditions. Compensation can help pay for necessary changes to your home, further medical treatment, or cover your wages while you take time off work to recover if necessary.

While daunting, you can be supported by a Your Legal Friend septic arthritis misdiagnosis lawyer every step of the way. Using our experience of the legal process and aiding those making medical claims, we’ll work on your behalf to secure you the best possible outcome in your personal case, without adding any pressure or stress.

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

The time limit on making a septic arthritis claim

If you would like to make a claim for septic arthritis misdiagnosis compensation, you much act within the three-year medical claim time limit.

If you or your child experienced medical negligence while suffering with septic arthritis, your time limit starts from the point that you first realised a mistake had been made with your level of care. In some cases, this may occur a significant time after you first visited your GP with concerns and the symptoms of the condition. It can be complicated to understand exactly how long you have. If you’re unsure, our team of septic arthritis misdiagnosis lawyers are on hand to give you the answers you’ve been looking for.

Alternatively, if you were affected as a child and would look to make a claim as an adult, your time limit starts from your eighteenth birthday.

While you have a maximum of three years to make a claim against those responsible for your suffering, we recommend that you act sooner. This can make gathering documents, such as your medical records, easier. To support your case, you will also be asked to give a witness statement detailing your care and experiences. Many of those making septic arthritis misdiagnosis claims find it easier to recall the details closer to the experience, providing a strong foundation to build you case on and improving the chances of being successful.

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

  • Specialist team of medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
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 septic arthritis claims experience

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 septic arthritis 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 medical misdiagnosis team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value septic arthritis 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.

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 septic arthritis 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 medical misdiagnosis 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.

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 septic arthritis 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 misdiagnosed septic arthritis?

If you experienced misdiagnosed septic arthritis, you may be able to make a claim. Successful cases demonstrate that there was both an opportunity to accurately diagnose the condition and that the medical negligence experienced led to undue suffering.

There are a number of ways you can show that your wrong diagnosis of septic arthritis was due to medical negligence. For example, you could show that:

  • There was a failure to diagnose septic arthritis after your GP missed the symptoms of the condition
  • If you were not referred to A&E despite presenting the signs of septic arthritis
  • The necessary tests were not ordered to achieve a diagnosis
  • Your test results were read incorrectly
  • You presented the symptoms of septic diagnosis but tests were negative and other tests were not ordered
  • There was an unnecessary delay in your care

Septic arthritis can have serious long-term complications that can severely affect a person’s quality of life and even be life threatening. To support a compensation case against those responsible, you will need to demonstrate that undue suffering was caused. This can take several forms, such as the unnecessary pain felt due to a delay in treatment or experiencing a long-term complication that means you now have to live with a disability.

Can I claim if my child experienced misdiagnosed septic arthritis?

Septic arthritis is most common in young children and elderly and if your child has been affected you may be able to make a compensation claim on their behalf.

In children, septic arthritis is most common in the hips. Long-term complications of septic arthritis can have a huge effect on quality of life, for instance limiting mobility. When you take your child to your doctors or local hospital with concerns you should be able to rely on those responsible for their care to take the necessary steps to achieve a quick, accurate diagnosis. Septic arthritis misdiagnosis cases not only mean that children are in pain and uncomfortable for longer but can increase the likelihood of complications occurring.

If you would like to make a claim for septic arthritis malpractice for your child, you will still need to follow the same process, such as demonstrating that medical negligence caused undue suffering and do so within the timeframe to make medical claims – three years.

How much compensation will I get?

Every case of septic misdiagnosis is different and the amount of compensation awarded to each person reflects this.

Without fully understanding your case, it’s impossible to say how much compensation you could receive. But using our legal knowledge and experience and assessing misdiagnosed septic arthritis stories, we’ll place a value on your claim. We’ll take a range of factors into account, from whether the misdiagnosis affected your income through not being able to work to how it has impacted on your long-term life.

While we can’t say how much your misdiagnosed septic arthritis lawsuit could be worth without talking to you first, every year the NHS pays out millions to those affected by medical negligence. When you work with us, you know you can rely on our expert team to give your septic arthritis misdiagnosis compensation claim the best possible chance of success.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Septic arthritis claims, like all medical claims, must be brought forward within three years from the ‘date of knowledge’ – the legal term for the date that you first realised medical negligence had affected your level of care.

It can be difficult to understand when the ‘date of knowledge’ occurred, and therefore how long you have to act. If you’re unsure of when you can bring forward a septic arthritis misdiagnosis lawsuit, our team are on hand. We’ll be able to guide you from the beginning of the process, listening to your experiences and helping you figure out when your time limit ends.

The exception to the time limit is if you experienced medical negligence as a child and would like to bring a case forward as an adult. In these cases, those with septic arthritis misdiagnosis compensation claims have three years to take action from the date of their eighteenth birthday. 

While you do have a significant timeframe to act, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Not only does it conclude the process sooner, allowing you to move forward, it can support gathering documentation that will be used to back your case, such as medical records and witness statements. We understand that you may not want to take action immediately after a misdiagnosis but with our support we’ll ensure the whole process is as smooth as possible.

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

What is septic arthritis?

Septic arthritis may also be known as infectious arthritis as it is caused by a bacterial infection. It causes inflammation around the joint, often resulting in severe pain, and can affect any joint in the body, although it’s most commonly affects the knees or hips. Where effective treatment is given, most sufferers of septic arthritis make a full recovery with no lasting damage. However, where treatment isn’t delivered it has the potential to cause permanent joint damage and become life threatening.

What causes septic arthritis?

Septic arthritis can affect both adults and children. The condition is usually caused by bacteria that’s spread through the blood stream but it may also enter the body through an open wound or opening following surgery.

There are several different types of bacteria that can cause septic arthritis, most commonly staphylococcal bacteria and streptococcal bacteria. In addition to bacteria causing septic arthritis, there are risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of contracting the condition. These include:

  • Having joint surgery, allowing the bacteria to enter through the opening
  • Having a bacterial infection somewhere else in the body, which can then travel to the joint through the blood stream
  • Some long-term conditions have been linked to an increased risk, including diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Using injected drugs
  • Taking medication that suppresses the immune system
  • Recently injuring a joint
  • Septic arthritis is also more common in young children and elderly adults

What are the symptoms of septic arthritis?

Septic arthritis is where a joint becomes inflamed due to a bacterial infection and generally the symptoms will come on rapidly, sometimes developing over just a few hours. Intense pain, swelling, redness, and heat in the affected joints are the most common signs of septic arthritis.

Other signs of septic arthritis may include:

  • Difficulty in moving the affected joint
  • A high temperature
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

When it occurs in young children, they will often become irritable and may avoid using or putting weight on the affected limb.

Septic arthritis can be a serious condition and it’s important that those with the symptoms attend a GP appointment or go to A&E as soon as possible. A delay in septic arthritis diagnosis can mean that those suffering will have to live with the complications of the condition for the rest of their lives as it’s crucial that effective treatment is delivered. There are misdiagnosed septic arthritis cases that demonstrate the need for accurate and rapid diagnosis.

How is septic arthritis diagnosed?

Often when experiencing joint pain, a person will make an appointment with their GP. However, if your symptoms indicate that they could be caused by septic arthritis, you GP will immediately refer you to an A&E department for further testing.

Those undergoing an assessment for septic arthritis, will have a blood test and a sample of fluid removed from the affected joint. These tests will examine whether inflammation and infection is present and identify bacteria that may be present. However, these tests aren’t always accurate and it is possible for them to return a negative result even when septic arthritis is to blame for the symptoms.

An x-ray or MRI scan may also be used to assess the extent of the joint damage that septic arthritis may have caused.

A delayed diagnosis of septic arthritis can seriously harm a patient’s prognosis and increase the likelihood of complications occurring. A quick diagnosis often relies on first the GP recognising the signs and then acting to make a referral to an A&E department. Where this doesn’t happen it can mean that GP misdiagnosis septic arthritis occurs. But a delay is diagnosis of septic arthritis can also occur if the necessary test results aren’t followed up or if the results of a test come back negative, despite symptoms, and the signs aren’t investigated further.

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

How is septic arthritis diagnosed?

Often when experiencing joint pain, a person will make an appointment with their GP. However, if your symptoms indicate that they could be caused by septic arthritis, you GP will immediately refer you to an A&E department for further testing.

Those undergoing an assessment for septic arthritis, will have a blood test and a sample of fluid removed from the affected joint. These tests will examine whether inflammation and infection is present and identify bacteria that may be present. However, these tests aren’t always accurate and it is possible for them to return a negative result even when septic arthritis is to blame for the symptoms.

An x-ray or MRI scan may also be used to assess the extent of the joint damage that septic arthritis may have caused.

A delayed diagnosis of septic arthritis can seriously harm a patient’s prognosis and increase the likelihood of complications occurring. A quick diagnosis often relies on first the GP recognising the signs and then acting to make a referral to an A&E department. Where this doesn’t happen it can mean that GP misdiagnosis septic arthritis occurs. But a delay is diagnosis of septic arthritis can also occur if the necessary test results aren’t followed up or if the results of a test come back negative, despite symptoms, and the signs aren’t investigated further.

What are the complications of septic arthritis?

Complications of septic arthritis can often be minimised or the risk reduced through administering the necessary treatment but where septic arthritis misdiagnosis has occurred this can lead to the risks increasing. A late septic arthritis diagnosis can mean that vital treatment is delayed, which in turn can lead to joint degeneration and, in some cases, permeant damage to the affected joint.

Complications that can be caused by septic arthritis include:

  • Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that is caused by bacteria and it can have serious complications if not treated adequately, including gangrene and the need for amputation in rare circumstances. It can occur when an infection spreads to the bone via the bloodstream and presents similar symptoms to septic arthritis.

  • Bony erosions

Bony erosions is the term for the loss of bone from disease processes. In cases of misdiagnosis of septic arthritis where treatment has been delayed, it is possible for bony erosions to occur due to the condition.

  • Fibrous ankylosis

Fibrous ankylosis affects the connective tissue, fusing together two bones. It can result in reduced mobility when it affects joints.

  • Sepsis

Sepsis is a potential complication of an infection, including septic arthritis. It is rare but very serious and can lead to multiple organ failure and death quickly if it isn’t diagnosed and treated swiftly.

  • Death

Due to the potential complications of septic arthritis, including sepsis, it is possible for the condition to be fatal. As a result, the wrong septic arthritis diagnosis can have serious implications for those involved and should be treated quickly.

The potentially life altering and life threatening complications means that those affected by a missed septic arthritis diagnosis may be able to make a failure to diagnose claim, reflecting the undue suffering their level of care has caused.

What conditions can septic arthritis be misdiagnosed as?

Occasionally, it is possible for doctor misdiagnosed septic arthritis to occur. Some of the symptoms of septic arthritis can mimic other conditions, leading to undiagnosed septic arthritis and a delay in the delivery of treatment.

Some of the conditions that septic arthritis may wrongly be labelled, include:

  • Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Adult Still’s disease
  • Lyme disease

How often is septic arthritis misdiagnosed?

There aren’t any official septic arthritis claims misdiagnosis statistics. However, while rare there are cases of septic arthritis misdiagnosis occurring in the UK.

While not specific to septic arthritis, pervious research has indicated that as many as one in six patients treated by the NHS are initially misdiagnosed because medical professionals are too quick to judge a patient’s symptoms.