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Cauda Equina
A & E Negligence and Incomplete Cauda Equina Syndrome

A & E Negligence and Incomplete Cauda Equina Syndrome

A patient with incomplete cauda equina syndrome requires immediate surgery. If Accident and Emergency practitioners fail to act on their symptoms urgently, the patient may suffer a poor outcome and be justified in making a claim for compensation.

Responding to CES patients

A patient who attends Accident and Emergency with symptoms of incipient cauda equina syndrome may be acting on the advice of their GP. They may alternatively simply be extremely worried by their debilitating and worsening lower body symptoms. Whatever the reason, their diagnosis and treatment should be considered a matter of emergency.

Failure to investigate a patient who is exhibiting the red flag symptoms of this shocking condition may mean that the patient's condition deteriorates. If the patient loses bladder sensation prior to surgery, they may be described as suffering complete cauda equina syndrome and may then suffer those symptoms for the rest of their life.

If discharged from Accident and Emergency with red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, such as the following, the relevant medical practitioners may be regarded as having acted negligently and it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

  • Bilateral leg symptoms such as pain, weakness and tingling
  • Alteration in sensation when urinating
  • Altered sensation in the saddle area and buttocks

Incomplete versus complete cauda equina syndrome

There are two important differences between incomplete and complete cauda equina syndrome

  • 1) A patient with incomplete cauda equina syndrome may be experiencing symptoms such as tingling or alteration of sensation in the limbs or saddle area, whereas a patient with complete cauda equina syndrome may have lost sensation completely.
  • 2) A patient with incomplete cauda equina syndrome is likely to experience a more positive long-term outcome from surgery than a patient with complete cauda equina syndrome

If only exhibiting possible early symptoms such as lower back and leg pain, the patient needs to be warned of the red flag symptoms if they are sent home from Accident and Emergency.

Medical negligence

A failure to investigate a patient's possible symptoms of cauda equina syndrome may be regarded as negligent and may alter the long-term outcome for the patient. If the patient subsequently suffers permanent loss of lower body sensation and associated life-changing problems such as loss of income, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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