Can I Sue the NHS ?

After many years and periods of employment and sickness I finally realised a couple of years ago that I might have a condition on the autism spectrum and after a hard fought battle getting a diagnosis I finally received one in September last year hense I am now going to finally be able to at least address my problems. However about 6 years ago I went for a mental health assessment and the doctor diagnosed me as Schitzoid Personality - a diagnosis I wholly disagreed with - this diagnosis was based upon a meeting that lasted about an hour and after receiving the diagnosis a few weeks later I really began to worry that I might be crazy so the wrong diagnosis had a bad impact on me.

I have also had many other wrong diagnoses throughout my life mostly from GP's these range from depression / anxiety / stress / nervous debility and personality disorder - NEVER did any doctor consider anything about the Autism spectrum, never was I asked any particular questions about it ever at all and the first time I suggested it to my GP about 2 years ago I was told not to waste my time, and asked what use a diagnosis would be ?

I am now 44 years old - I really feel someone somewhere down the line someone should have suggested/noticed something rather than just labelling me as a depressive, obviously I was depressed but that's mainly because of struggling with everyday things like speaking and I would certainly expect a qualified mental health doctor giving me an assessment to at least be able to notice certain signs of a condition on the autism spectrum rather than labelling me as having a severe mental health condition, there is a huge difference. My latest assessment says I have no mental health issues whatsoever.

If someone is misdiagnosed for a physical condition and the misdiagnosis means the problem continuing for longer than necessary then they can sue - is my case any different. I took a dislike to the doctor, he seemed to have a lack of interest from the start of the assessment and seemed to just pick up on a few points which he then fit into his wrong diagnosis - for example I told him I felt uncomfortable on the way to the hospital because someone was walking about 4 foot behind me for a few hundred yards, he obviously assumed this meant I had some kind of paranoia rather than it being about my personal space.

Would like to know what anyone thinks, thanks.

Paul

  • I just dont approve of sueing the NHS, I think its iresponsible and mean.

    You may have a case but it seems a huge waste of time and money for everyone, including you. I expect the legal fees and admin costs would far exceed any compensation.

     

  • It's probably not possible, but it would be better to sue the individual doctor who misdiagnosed you rather than the NHS.  If you really want to look into it, there are solicitors always advertising medical negligence services.

  • I don't agree with suing the NHS. It's not left you needing care, etc.

    Autism also presents as other stuff and depending on how you present, they're not going to automatically assume you have Autism.

    Not being rude; but be grateful they didn't miss a condition which can kill you. My father & I have both been in this situation. Both of us have been left with head injuries and memory problems. In my case, they actually hid the diagnosis from my parents (therefore, refusing to medicate me) and claimed my parents were over reacting and they blamed everything on me being sight impaired.

  • Easy said:

    I just dont approve of sueing the NHS, I think its iresponsible and mean.

    You may have a case but it seems a huge waste of time and money for everyone, including you. I expect the legal fees and admin costs would far exceed any compensation.

     

    I tend to agree with Easy. The NHS have not caused you a life-threatening or life-changing injury as such.  And suing the NHS at a time when it is being asked to make £20 billion efficiency savings may just take away monies that could have otherwise been spent on patient care.  

    You could put in an official complaint and ask for your past diagnosises to be re-examinated, to try and find out why you were misdiagnosed or whether there was any professional neglect involved.  

    Similarly, Autism and its diagnosis and understanding of the condition has developed over the later half of the 20th century.  Asperger Syndrome did not become more widely recognised until the 1990s, after Dr Hans Asperger's work was translated into English and made more widely available outside of Germany.  Therefore, your mis-diagnosis may have been simply due to a lack of knowledge of Autism and how it can affect people in different ways and its varying degrees of severity and so on.  

  • Hi all

    This page, and the posts in it, have been edited by the moderator as they contained offensive and discriminatory comments.

    May I remind all users of the NAS Community rules. Failure to adhere to these will result in a review of users' posting permissions. 

    If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact me: community.manager@nas.org.uk.

    Best wishes
    Mike, NAS 

  • First, let me say that you should not let anybody belittle your experience of misdiagnosis: it is extremely distressing and affects your life just as much as if they cut off the wrong leg.

    Second, it would be good if people stopped making comments suggesting that suing the NHS takes money away from the rest of the people who need treatment: it does not.  The NHS, like any other huge corporation, has LIABILITY INSURANCE which is what pays any claim for compensation.  In addition, any practicing professional such as dentist, lawyer, GP, osteopath etc, will have liability insurance.  Nobody is denied treatment because somebody sues for not receiving the correct treatment.

    As for the misdiagnoses you feel you have been given, it is possible to have co-morbid mental health issues with autism and the problem, as I see it, is that people of your age (I am 46) presented with difficulties at a time when autism was not on the radar of most GPs.  Autistic spectrum disorders or high functioning autism didn't really exist at the time so the difficulties you face with these 'conditions' were likely to be interpreted as psychological rather than neurological.  Of course, once this has happened, you are invariably going to be given pharmaceuticals which complicate the issue and, as you state, depression is almost inevitable when wading through each day is such a challenge.

    I think that what is most important to somebody in your position is the acknowledgement that you have been let down by the system.  If a medical practitioner were to sit in front of you and say "my goodness, what a mess!  How on earth have you managed?" you might feel much better.  It's the fact that you are treated as though you are a nuisance/hypochondriac who has no right to question their authority that causes the most distress.  If they had cut off the wrong leg, their mishandling of your treatment would be blatantly obvious and undeniable.  When the problem is related to cognitive function and ability to deal with what most people find irrelevant/easy, it is less clear cut but still not acceptable.  

    For anybody to suggest that you should be grateful that they didn't miss a condition that could kill you is offensive.   Depression can, and does, kill.  Depression caused as a result of primary diagnosis being missed is no different than losing your sight because somebody failed to notice your diabetes.  

    I suggest you get in touch with the PAL or Google patient advocacy.  Try wading through the information because it will tell you how they can act for you to ensure that you receive the treatment you deserve.  You may find that this is all you need to make you feel better but if it is not, then you can contact a lawyer to talk about whether or not you want to take it further.

    Most people will be put off the idea of suing because of comments like the ones that have been made to you - nobody wants to be responsible for taking money from patient services - or because they are worried that their treatment will be affected by the fact that they have sued.  Showing damages - which is what you must do to be awarded compensation - is also very difficult.  You need to have something concrete you can describe that has happened to you as a result of the misdiagnosis (such as loss of earnings or real - by which I mean measurable - emotional distress or broken relationships etc).  Compensation payments are also likely to be relatively small: the largest compensation payments are awarded in cases of negligence where it can be proven that quality of life has been irrevocably altered (such as with complications at birth that require a patient to have lifelong care etc).  

    Notwithstanding the above, if more people complained and/or sued, less people might be put in your position.  We are extremely lucking to have the NHS but that does not mean that it is beyond reproach.  It is paid for by our taxes so in a way we are shareholders and as such have a responsibility to ensure that it is run correctly.  We also have a right to good 'service'.  Just because something is free to the user does not mean it can be substandard.  I think everybody would be outraged if we sent vaccines to a 3rd world country that turned out to cause medical problems and would demand somebody be held to account.  Why should it be any different with the NHS?

    Finally, my advice to you would be: read.  Read everything you can about the issues that affect you.  Be informed so that you can have a say in your treatments.  It is your right to question - doctors are people, not gods, and they are intrinsically fallible.

    Good luck

  • Second, it would be good if people stopped making comments suggesting that suing the NHS takes money away from the rest of the people who need treatment: it does not.  The NHS, like any other huge corporation, has LIABILITY INSURANCE which is what pays any claim for compensation.

    It does push up their insurance cost though, which is footed by tax payers. Therefore, still taking money from other services and people that need it.

    I am not sure what good suing will actually do? It's not as if you've been left so disabled that you're now having to pay for care.

  • Paull - your story is no different from most of the adults now being diagnosed. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 54 so be thankful you have had an extra ten years!! I had decades of anti-psychotic medication as well as diagnoses for anxiety depression phobias blah blah blah.  It would have made a huge difference to me to have been diagnosed 30 years ago or even 20 I wouldn't have wasted my life. They were not negligent they just didn't know everything.

    Asperger's has only been known about in the UK 20 years and then it was largely kept to the academic community. Tests like ADOS and other knowledge about conditions takes years to develop and validate. Things are improving and that's the best we can hope for. Sueing isn't going to do you or anyone else any good - it just makes them nervous about giving diagnoses to people.  I don't think you will have any success and I think it will be an arduous and distressing process for you. Do you really want to waste another two years.?

  • Agreed, Silver. It's not the medical professional fault that conditions such as Aspergers have only recently been discovered. Therefore, how can they be held responsible for something like this?

  • Silver100 said:

    Paull - your story is no different from most of the adults now being diagnosed. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 54 so be thankful you have had an extra ten years!! I had decades of anti-psychotic medication as well as diagnoses for anxiety depression phobias blah blah blah.  It would have made a huge difference to me to have been diagnosed 30 years ago or even 20 I wouldn't have wasted my life. They were not negligent they just didn't know everything.

    Asperger's has only been known about in the UK 20 years and then it was largely kept to the academic community. Tests like ADOS and other knowledge about conditions takes years to develop and validate. Things are improving and that's the best we can hope for. Sueing isn't going to do you or anyone else any good - it just makes them nervous about giving diagnoses to people.  I don't think you will have any success and I think it will be an arduous and distressing process for you. Do you really want to waste another two years.?

    Ditto!  My original point, basically.