• We are extremely proud to have secured over £114 MILLION in damages for our clients between 2018 and 2019!
  • We're delighted to be featured in the Times Best Law Firms 2019 guide under personal injury
  • Potter Rees Dolan were on the Legal 500 Awards 2018 insurance shortlist for the North West

Failure to diagnose illness

The team of specialist solicitors at Potter Rees Dolan is here to help you get the support you need if a medical professional has failed to diagnose an illness or condition, leading to complications and suffering further down the line.

Failure to diagnose claims can involve anything from failing entirely to diagnose a condition such as cancer, to missing signs of a condition or injury which, if caught earlier, would have reduced the hardship and suffering for you and your family. It can also involve failing to refer you to a specialist for investigation into your symptoms which then leads to a delay in diagnosis.

You can rely on our clinical negligence team to help fight for the financial award you deserve. We’ve helped many clients just like you get the compensation you need to help you cope with the physical and emotional consequences of poor medical care. And we know the difference a successful claim can make to your quality of life - it can pay for any care needed, any loss of earnings, specialist equipment, and any adaptations to your home that you now may need.

Our highly regarded clinical negligence team is made up of Helen Dolan, Lesley Herbertson and Gill Edwards, who all feature in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers guides. One of our guiding principles is to personalise our service for every single person we work with. putting our clients and their best interests first.

We’re ready to help you. Speak to our caring and supportive team on 0800 027 2557. If you’d like one of our solicitors to call you back, please fill in the contact form on the side of the page and we will call you back at a time of your choosing.

Recent case wins

Delay in diagnosing and treating brain haemorrhage - £1.2 million

Failure to diagnose eye injury leaves 15-year-old boy blind in one eye - £350,000.00

Delay in diagnosing infection caused near death experience - £120,000.00

Young mother dies leaving new born baby after delay in diagnosing brain tumour - £350,000.00

What does failure to diagnose mean?

Failure to diagnose is split into two categories:

  • Undiagnosed - when you have visited your GP or attended at hospital on several occasions and they failed to diagnose your condition; or to refer you for the correct investigations or correctly interpret test results.
  • Misdiagnosed - your condition is misdiagnosed if a medical professional gives you the incorrect diagnosis. For example, you were told you have cancer when in fact you do not.

What are the repercussions of failure to diagnose?

Failure to diagnose cases are some of the most difficult cases for our clients at Potter Rees Dolan to come to terms with. You have an expectation that medical professionals will perform their duties to the best of their abilities. When the correct diagnosis has been missed, it's our job to find out how and why it happened.

In some cases, failure to refer you for investigation or to diagnose a condition quickly can result in a condition getting worse or perhaps even lead to death. It might be that the medical professional has disregarded what the patient has said, or has not appreciated the significance of a symptom, missing a diagnosis as a result.

Failure to diagnose can have broad and far-reaching consequences, including:

  • Chronic illness or even death
  • Fear, anxiety or stress-related illnesses
  • Illness that changes and impacts your day to day life
  • Loss of confidence and trust in healthcare professionals

Medical negligence

You may be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence if your case meets the following criteria:

  • The failure to diagnose must be deemed unacceptable by medical professionals and
  • The failure to diagnose has caused or contributed to additional emotional, physical and financial injury and loss.

Failure to diagnose cases are notoriously complex. The difficulty lies in establishing how much worse off a patient is as a result of the failure to diagnose. This will depend on the patient’s individual circumstances and evaluations made by specialist medical professionals and our legal team. Our team at Potter Rees Dolan has specialist expertise in dealing with these challenging claims.

How we can help

Potter Rees Dolan’s clinical negligence team has earned a reputation as one of the very best in the UK. Boasting a combined experience in serious injury law of over 60 years and comprehensive medical insight, the team has an unwavering dedication to help families recover the compensation they deserve.

About Helen Dolan, head of the department, Chambers 2018 says: “Helen is scrupulous in her preparation and organisation, highly experienced, and her knowledge and insight was extremely reassuring.”

Chambers 2018 says, Lesley Herbertson “has recently handled a delay of treatment case concerning cauda equina. She has additional capabilities in assisting with failings in district nursing and delays in diagnosis leading to brain injuries.”

Gill Edwards is described as being and "exceptionally good solicitor" and garners praise from a client who says: "The way that she helped me is amazing. She is fantastic.”

About our clinical negligence team, our clients are quoted in Chambers 2018 saying: "it was the personal attention we received, the knowledge of the specific needs and future hopes of the claimant, and consideration for our family life that made the firm the right match for us."

Our clients tell us that it is the empathy and care with which we act that sets us apart. We specialise in serious and catastrophic injuries, so we know how difficult it can be to live with severe disability. It is our aim therefore, to make the claim process as stress-free for you and your family as we can.


Most clinical negligence cases are funded on the basis of a “no win, no fee” agreement, otherwise known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. We can investigate your potential claim and you will not have to pay us a penny if your case is not successful. We will explain how a Conditional Fee Agreement works at our very first meeting.

You may already have a legal expense insurance policy. In the first instance, we’ll always start by investigating whether you can use the same policy for your case, before we consider whether a Conditional Fee Agreement is more appropriate.

What happens next?

First, we will discuss your circumstances in detail and help you understand whether you have a case or not. If we agree that you do, we will help you gather all of the necessary evidence to build a strong case. We do this to make sure we can give you the best chance to recover the right amount of compensation.

Your medical records are our first point of call - we will obtain them and go through them with you in depth.

We will then instruct independent experts to advise whether or not you or your family member has received substandard treatment. Once we have ascertained you have been a victim of clinical negligence, we will initiate court proceedings. We will progress the claim as quickly as possible, whilst always exploring opportunities to adequately settle the case early.

Related Case Studies

View all Case Studies

Contact us today

Our understanding and caring team is waiting to hear from you on 0800 027 2557. We’re ready to listen and to help you get the support you need.

If you’d like one of our solicitors to give you a call back, fill out form on the side of the page or visit our contact page. If there is someone specific at the firm you would like to speak to, visit their profile on our people page.


Which conditions are commonly misdiagnosed/ which conditions cause the greatest harm when misdiagnosed?

Our team deals with cases relating to certain conditions on a regular basis, including but not limited to:

  • Cauda Equina injury - loss of sensation in the body, limbs and failure to investigate and protect the spinal cord from further damage
  • Cancer - including failure to perform or correctly interpret a mammogram, biopsy, scan and/or blood tests leading to the disease reaching a more advanced stage
  • Heart conditions - failure to diagnose conditions such as hypertrophic (HCM) and provide an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), and/or failure to diagnose long QT syndrome, causing premature death or brain damage
  • Meningitis - failure to perform a proper and timely physical and neurological examination, and/or failure to perform a lumbar puncture leading to brain injury and amputation or in some cases death.
  • Pneumonia - failure to diagnose pneumonia leading to lung injury and in some cases death
  • Sepsis – failure to diagnose the signs of sepsis leading to septic shock, intestinal failure and in some cases death
  • Compartment Syndrome – including failure to diagnose the signs of reduced circulation resulting in amputation

Useful Information

Compartment Syndrome

This is a painful, and potentially serious condition, where an enclosed body space (such as a bundle of muscles or tissue) swells and so pressure increases.

Pressure builds within the compartment which affects the function of the muscle and tissue.

There is then a lack of oxygenated blood to the area which can cause the tissue to die. If left untreated, then it could result in a loss of a limb.

Read about our client who was wrongly diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis when in fact she had compartment syndrome. She was diagnosed too late which resulted in an above knee amputation.


Another name for high blood pressure, hypertension means that the blood pressure is continually higher than normal and rarely shows any symptoms.

As hypertension has no obvious symptoms, the only way to check is to have your blood pressure measured. However, in some rare cases of very high blood pressure, the individual mat experience a persistent headache, blurred vision and nosebleeds.

In most cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown but the risk can be increased due to age, a family history of high blood pressure, a high amount of salt in your food, being overweight and drinking large amounts of alcohol.

A small percentage of hypertension cases are as a result of underlying conditions such as; kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal conditions and the oral contraceptive pill.

If untreated, hypertension could cause a stroke or heart attack and kidney disease.

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES)

This is a particularly serious type of nerve root problem in the back which is very rare. It occurs when there is pressure on the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord, preventing the nerves from working properly. For more information on (CES) click here.

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