Misdiagnosis and
delayed diagnosis
of cancer

Dealing with a medical misdiagnosis

We know that misdiagnosis of a serious or progressive illness can have devastating consequences for you.

If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed, our team can help you understand your legal options to achieve the best possible outcome.

Why Maurice Blackburn?

We are Australia's leading medical negligence law firm and have a team of dedicated personal injury lawyers who only handle medical malpractice claims. This team has successfully represented hundreds of patients and their families in complex and sensitive cases.

Medical malpractice laws are different across states and territories, so it's important to have a local lawyer with national resources. That's why Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and throughout Australia.

If you think you have experienced medical misdiagnosis, talk to us today to find out how we can help you.

All you need to know about medical negligence

If your health care professional, hospital or other facility breaches what’s known as their duty of care, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make a medical misdiagnosis claim?

You may be eligible to claim medical misdiagnosis compensation if you have a serious progressive illness and have been misdiagnosed by your medical provider.

Your 'misdiagnosis' may mean several things:

  • delayed diagnosis
  • incorrect or wrongful diagnosis
  • failure to make any diagnosis

A provider can include a hospital, doctor, nurse, assistant, lab personnel, dentist, pharmacist or other employer or allied health professional.

What types of negligent treatment can I make a medical misdiagnosis claim for?

The most common types of medical misdiagnosis claims can involve:

  • misdiagnosis of medical conditions
  • delayed diagnosis of medical conditions (for example after a Pap smear, breast screening or other diagnostic test)
  • cancer misdiagnosis
    • breast cancer misdiagnosis
    • bowel cancer
    • colorectal cancer
    • lung cancer
    • pancreatic cancer

Am I eligible to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim?

Your cancer misdiagnosis can cause devastating physical, psychological and financial burdens for you and your family. You may be eligible for cancer misdiagnosis compensation if your misdiagnosis included any of the following.

Delayed diagnosis: If a medical professional failed to recognise early signs of cancer, which resulted in delayed treatment.

Incorrect or wrongful cancer diagnosis: If your non-cancerous condition is wrongly diagnosed as cancer, and you undergo unnecessary cancer treatment. Or if your cancer was diagnosed as a different condition and you missed a critical window of time for cancer treatment as a result.

Failure to diagnose cancer: If a medical professional has failed to diagnose your cancer, and another doctor or specialist has diagnosed the cancer after the onset of severe symptoms that indicate the cancer is advanced.

Your cancer misdiagnosis may become medical negligence when a medical professional fails to:

  • acknowledge, investigate or identify certain symptoms
  • administer appropriate cancer testing when symptoms or other risk factors call for it
  • properly conduct cancer testing such as biopsies or MRIs
  • correctly read or interpret test results
  • acknowledge or investigate medical recommendations made by a testing lab
  • refer you to a more qualified specialist (if they lack the right skills or expertise)
  • provide prompt and adequate follow-up care to assess treatment

Misdiagnosis also can become negligence if a medical professional treats you in a way that is not medically warranted by the symptoms.

Who can I claim medical misdiagnosis compensation against?

Medical providers owe you a 'duty of care' to exercise skill, judgement and reasonable care when examining, diagnosing, treating and advising you. If they breach that duty, you may be able to make a medical misdiagnosis compensation claim and they may be liable for any harm caused.

Common negligent treatment that you may be able to claim medical misdiagnosis compensation for include:

  • misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition
  • making an existing condition worse
  • failure to provide the appropriate treatment or referral
  • a delay in diagnosis or providing the appropriate treatment or referral
  • failure to perform surgery or provide post-operative care with reasonable care and skill
  • incorrectly reporting on test results

What compensation can I expect to receive for my medical misdiagnosis negligence claim?

You may be able to claim medical misdiagnosis compensation for negligent treatment by a medical provider under general Australian law. This also applies if medical negligence or malpractice results in an unexpected death.

The law in some states has a threshold that determines how significant or severe an injury has to be before you’re entitled to claim damages for pain and suffering caused by this injury. Each state and territory has its own laws that apply to medical misdiagnosis cases.

To make a successful medical misdiagnosis negligence claim, you need to be able to prove that:

  • there was negligent medical treatment
  • the treatment caused an injury or some harm that would not otherwise have occurred

If you do have a case, we will help settle it outside of court or represent you in court. Contact us to discuss your claim.

What expenses are covered and benefits am I entitled to under my medical misdiagnosis compensation claim?

You will only need to pay our fees if you receive a settlement for your medical misdiagnosis compensation claim, as we provide our medical negligence services on a 'no win, no fee'* basis.

If your claim is successful, you will be charged for the costs of the investigation and the legal work performed after issuing proceedings. This will be a charge on the appropriate court scale, and you will be given more information about this at the time when the decision is made to issue proceedings.

You won't be charged our fees if your claim is not pursued. In most cases, disbursements (the out-of-pocket expenses that we pay to other people) must be paid whether you win or lose.

Can I represent myself when making a medical misdiagnosis claim?

Yes. However, medical misdiagnosis law is complicated. Even if you have received negligent treatment, you cannot make a misdiagnosis claim if you haven't suffered harm or injury.

As medicine is a difficult practice, your medical providers aren't expected to be perfect. Sometimes medical treatment is unsuccessful and injuries occur, but that is not enough to show that you were treated with negligence. You will need to prove that your misdiagnosis is more than a reasonable mishap or mistake. 

It's important to get help from someone who understands the complexities of medical misdiagnosis law, with experience in your area. Maurice Blackburn is Australia's leading and largest team of medical negligence lawyers, with all the resources and experience that come with being a national firm.

If you think you’ve experienced misdiagnosis, negligence or malpractice, contact us today to find out how we can help you.

How do I make a medical misdiagnosis claim?

In order to make a medical misdiagnosis claim, you will need to:

  • Contact Maurice Blackburn to speak with our medical negligence team.
  • We will gather information from you about what has occurred and then provide you with a preliminary assessment.

We will help you understand if you have grounds for a claim by investigating your case and getting an independent medical expert's opinion. If we believe you should proceed further, we will then lodge your legal claim and represent you at mediation and settlement hearings.

If your case doesn’t settle, we can represent you in court. We also manage coroner's inquests by liaising with the court on your behalf, preparing the case and representing you in court. Contact us today.

How long do I have to make a medical misdiagnosis claim?

Time limits vary under the different state and federal laws. In most cases, you need to take legal action within three years of the injury. If your medical misdiagnosis claim is for a child, time limits can vary more and differ between states.

The timeline for your medical negligence claim may be shorter or longer depending on the case, so it's best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Extensions of time limits are sometimes possible.

How long does a medical misdiagnosis claim take?

Your medical misdiagnosis claim and the legal process may take up to several years, especially if you have to wait for injuries to stabilise.

No win, no fee*

Our medical negligence lawyers are experienced in winning fair compensation for our clients on a no win, no fee basis.

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