Delayed diagnosis of Crohn’s and Colitis

DNA strandA study published in the Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis has highlighted severe delays in diagnosing Crohn’s and colitis and the impact this has on patient wellbeing.

Delayed diagnosis can have wide-reaching implications on both the patients physical and mental wellbeing.

The study, which reviewed the records of 19,000 people in England with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease found that one in ten people with inflammatory bowel disease visited their doctor with symptoms five years before receiving a diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis claims can arise from these types of situations, whereby a patient has waited an excess amount of time before a correct diagnosis and if they have suffered unduly as a result.

Delayed diagnosis

The results of the study highlighted the extent of delayed diagnosis for the condition with some patients experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms for up to 10 years before they received a formal diagnosis.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to describe a number of conditions, primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Together it is thought that more than 300,000 people in the UK suffer from these conditions which can trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Despite the large number of people suffering from the condition, it appears that diagnosing it is still an issue. There are however a number of tests including blood and stool tests that can help to correctly identify the condition and it is therefore important for medical professionals to utilise these in a timely manner to avoid any potential delayed diagnosis compensation claims.

Delayed diagnosis claims

Shockingly, the study also revealed that among patients with gut symptoms lasting more than six weeks, half had to wait in excess of 18 months to see a specialist.  Excessive delays can lead to increased suffering and result in delayed diagnosis claims.

One attributing factor to the delay in diagnosis is that the conditions can often be mistaken for other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or haemorrhoids. In these instances, a misdiagnosis claim may arise, should the medical professional have failed to correctly out tests or taken steps that could have correctly identified the condition.

Professor Sonia Saxena, co-author of the research and Professor of Primary Care at Imperial’s School of Public Health added: “Any delays in diagnosis and referral will likely be exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are patients reluctant to visit their GP surgery at the moment, but the waiting time to see consultants may be longer than usual, as COVID-19 response and treatment is being prioritized by the NHS.”

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