It’s an old adage, but the truth of this statement was highlighted this week, when English Rugby Star Matt Dawson revealed the very serious consequences that a delay in diagnosing he was suffering from lyme disease has had on his health.
It has been reported that his GP failed to diagnose and treat this condition and as a result, Mr Dawson’s heart was damaged and he required 2 heart operations. Sadly it appears that Matt Dawson is not alone, and lyme disease sufferers would say that awareness of the condition is woefully lacking amongst GPs.
Misdiagnosis or non-diagnosis can of course also occur when a patient presents with symptoms of a large number of diseases, including heart conditions and cancer.
A failure to diagnose a serious medical condition impacts on a patient’s life in 2 ways. Firstly there is the obvious consequences for the patient’s health. During any delay in diagnosis, the patient’s health can deteriorate, adversely affecting the quality of their life, and can result in more invasive medical intervention being required to treat the condition. This may cause long term problems which could have been avoided by a more timely diagnosis.
The other consequence is that a failure to diagnose and treat a patient’s condition can result in a direct financial loss to the patient. It may be that the patient has had to take additional time off work during the period of delay. Extended periods of sick leave from work will invariably cause considerable financial pressure, particularly for the self-employed or small business owner, who may find that their ability to personally perform contracts or attend meetings, is crucial to the success of the business. I have acted for clients who have seen their house repossessed and their business suffer and even fail, during a period of extended incapacity. Recovering such business losses can be complex and often requires expert input from forensic accountants.
In short, your health really is your wealth in more ways than one. If you feel you or a member of your family has been affected by a failure to diagnose or treat a medical condition, please contact me for advice. All initial calls are free and entirely confidential.
Nikki McConnell is a Partner with Worthingtons Solicitors and is head of the Litigation department in our Newtownards office. Nikki has considerable experience of representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants in a wide variety of litigious matters, including Public and Employers Liability cases, Road Traffic Accidents and Medical Negligence actions. Nikki can be contacted on 02891811538 or email firstname.lastname@example.org