What is a delay in a diagnosis claim?

As the head of our clinical negligence department says, one thing is for sure; a delay in a diagnosis is a difficult and tricky topic.

The delay in a diagnosis can apply to any existing medical condition that you may have, and the smallest of delays can even have fatal consequences. That’s why it’s important for medical professionals to avoid diagnosis delays, and that’s why we have to step in if something does go wrong.

A few things to consider when we look at whether we can help a person with a delay in diagnosis claim:

Has the delay had an effect on the outcome?

The real issue with a delay in a diagnosis is what difference does, or did, it make to the eventual outcome. There are two factors for this:

  • The length of delay in diagnosis; and
  • The type of condition you have.

Delays in medical negligence

A delay in diagnosing cancer is a classic example. But other delays include:

  • Misdiagnosis – this involves Doctors making an incorrect diagnosis of your symptoms;
  • Failing to refer the patient on for specialised treatment on the outset;
  • Failing to prescribe (correct) medication at the outset;
  • Failing to refer, read, or report on an x-ray properly, or at all.

Making a claim

We must normally prove the following when we look at a delay in diagnosis claim:

  • Breach of duty – showing that the medical staff involved breached their duty of care for a patient; and
  • Medical causation – showing that the breach has caused or exacerbated a medical problem.

We normally use specialist medical reports where an expert can give their professional and independent opinion as to whether there has been a breach, and whether the breach has caused any problems. It’s quite common with medical negligence claims for several experts to be seen who are instructed by both your lawyers and the defendant’s lawyers too.


Delays in diagnosis in medical negligence claims has proven that one glove doesn’t fit all. Cases turn on their factual circumstances, but if you believe that you have been a victim of the delay in diagnosis, please contact us and our dedicated clinical negligence team can assist you in your claim.

The content of this post/page was considered accurate at the time of the original posting and/or at the time of any posted revision. The content of this page may, therefore, be out of date. The information contained within this page does not constitute legal advice. Any reliance you place on the information contained within this page is done so at your own risk.

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