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What to do when you’re not happy with your doctor’s diagnosis

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First4Lawyers, October 10, 2019

We visit our doctors to get help with medical problems. For most people, this goes smoothly and they find the right treatment for their issue.

But in some cases, you may end up unhappy with your doctor’s diagnosis.

Why you might be unhappy

You might find yourself unhappy with your doctor for several reasons. If you think you might be suffering from a certain ailment but your doctor dismisses this as unlikely, you may not feel you’ve been taken seriously. This has serious consequences, too, as you might end up with a misdiagnosis. This could also lead to you being treated with the wrong medication, therefore making the situation even worse.

If your doctor does not recommend or prescribe a certain treatment for you – which you know to be the correct treatment – because you have a certain protected characteristic, this could be considered discrimination. This could be based on a disability, sexual orientation or race, for example.

Another common reason for unhappiness with a doctor’s diagnosis is the length of time it takes to receive that diagnosis. If there has been an unreasonable delay in being diagnosed, this could fall under medical negligence.

So what should you do if you’re not happy with your doctor’s diagnosis?

Request a second opinion

The General Medical Council has said that clinicians “must respect the patient’s right to seek a second opinion”. Although the NHS advises that if you are not happy with your doctor’s diagnosis, you should ask them to explain why they made the decisions they have made, you should not feel as if you can’t ask for a second opinion. A healthcare professional will rarely refuse to refer you for one.

You may want to ask another doctor in your surgery about your concern or even find a new surgery if you’re particularly unhappy with your diagnosis. If you’re not satisfied with a consultant, you will have to go back to your GP and ask to be referred to another doctor.

It’s important that you don’t suffer in silence. If you know something isn’t right – and no one knows your body better than you – then you should feel empowered to pursue the correct treatment.

Complain about your treatment

Another important action to take when you’re not happy with a doctor’s diagnosis is to complain. If you’re not happy with an NHS service, you can write a letter of complaint. You can also complain about private healthcare services.

According to the NHS, you can complain to either the service provider directly – such as a GP, dentist surgery or hospital – or to the commissioner of the services, which is the body that pays for the NHS services you use. You are not able to complain to both.

For complaints about primary care – including GPs, dentists and pharmacists – you should contact the NHS in your constituent country. If you want to complain about a secondary healthcare provider – including hospital care, mental health services, out of hours services and district nursing – you should contact your local clinical commissioning group.

Take legal action

An official complaint will provide evidence in the event you decide to pursue legal action against the clinician you are unhappy with. And if you have suffered significant health problems as a result of your treatment, legal action may be the most appropriate step.

If you have suffered from medical negligence, you could be entitled to compensation to help you get back on your feet. In order to make a claim, the negligence must have taken place in the last three years. However, you can also pursue a claim if you were made aware of the negligence in the last three years.

First4Lawyers’ friendly and compassionate advisors will help you work out if you have a claim. If you’re not sure about your case, just get in touch and we can help you decide what to do next.