Failure to Diagnose Cancer Negligence Claims

My doctor found out that I have cancer and that it should have been discovered six months ago, but if I am in no pain from the disease (yet) how can I justify failure to diagnose cancer negligence claims?

Answer:

Failure to diagnose cancer negligence claims are an exception to the general rule which states you are only eligible to claim compensation for medical negligence if it can be demonstrated that you have suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the negligence of a medical practitioner who owed you a duty of care.

In the case of failure to diagnose cancer negligence claims, not only has the claimant lost the opportunity to receive treatment which may assist or cure his condition, it is likely that there will be a reduction in life expectancy and the emotional trauma that this knowledge inflicts. The reduction in life expectancy also reduces the amount of time a claimant may be able to work and support his family and for these reasons it is justified that you are able to claim compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer.

This argument was supported by the Supreme Court in 2004, when Mr Justice Nial Fennelly [presiding over Philp v Ryan (2004) 4 I.R. 241] made an award of €45,000 against Bon Secours Hospital in Cork commenting that “It seems to me to be contrary to instinct and logic that a plaintiff should not be entitled to be compensated for the fact that, due to the negligent diagnosis of his medical condition, he has been deprived of appropriate medical advice and the consequent opportunity to avail of treatment which might improve his condition. I can identify no contrary principle of law or justice.”

Mr Justice Fennelly´s judgement enabled claimants who had previously been unable to claim compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer to make failure to diagnose cancer negligence claims – provided that the discovery of the failure to diagnose was made within the previous two years. As your doctor has indicated that the disease should have been identified six months ago, you are well within the time limits imposed by the Statute of Limitations to make failure to diagnose cancer negligence claims.

However, as medical negligence has been the contributing factor to your claim, the Injuries Board Ireland will decline to process an application for assessment submitted to them. A medical negligence solicitor will be required to pursue a claim for failure to diagnose cancer negligence on your behalf but, as your doctor has already established that medical negligence has occurred in your treatment, it should not be a long process to recover compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer.

It is hoped that your doctor´s discovery of your disease has come in time for you to receive appropriate treatment for cancer, but it still recommended that you speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss your eligibility to claim for failure to diagnose cancer negligence and discuss how much compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer you may be entitled to.