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Can I Sue my GP for Complete Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Can I Sue my GP for Complete Cauda Equina Syndrome?

If you are now suffering with the appalling effects of complete cauda equina syndrome because your GP failed to recognise and act on your early symptoms, it may indeed by appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

A delay in diagnosing cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome can be a medical emergency. If a patient attends a medical practitioner with red flag signs and symptoms of this shocking condition and yet still retain bladder function, it is essential that they are referred for an immediate MRI scan to confirm the cause of their symptoms.

A delay in referring a patient with incomplete cauda equina syndrome may lead to a number of undesirable outcomes:

  • A delay in diagnosis
  • A delay in decompression surgery
  • A chance for the condition to deteriorate prior to surgery, causing the patient's long-term symptoms to be worse than may have been the case with an earlier diagnosis

Symptoms which might indicate the need for an immediate MRI scan include lower back and leg pain, possibly bilateral, alteration of bladder function and alteration of sensation in the saddle area.

These symptoms might suggest that the patient's condition does not have a muscular cause, nor is it simply sciatica. The alteration in bladder function and saddle sensation suggest that the underlying cause may be due to nerve dysfunction.

Deterioration of nerve function

Without diagnosis and surgery, the pressure on the nerves in the lower back is likely to increase, bringing worsening symptoms and possible permanent loss of bowel, bladder and sexual function.

Once both bladder sensation and function have been lost, where the patient is described as being 'in retention of urine', the chances of a good recovery and long-term outcome are reduced. The patient may suffer those symptoms for the rest of their life.

Is it medical negligence?

If the patient is suffering the symptoms of complete CES (loss of bladder function and loss of saddle sensation) by the time they attend their GP, then the period of deterioration has already occurred and their GP is unlikely to be regarded as negligent.

However, if the patient attends their GP with symptoms indicative of incomplete cauda equina syndrome, such as poor urinary function and leg pain or weakness, a delay in acting upon those symptoms allows time for them to deteriorate prior to surgery. The GP may then be regarded as having acted negligently. He or she may, therefore, be considered as responsible for the loss of function associated with the deterioration of symptoms during the period of delay.

Additionally, if the patient is exhibiting symptoms which might indicate cauda equina syndrome but does not have any of the red flag symptoms of saddle sensation and bladder dysfunction, the GP may be considered to have provided only substandard care if they do not warn the patient of the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. A referral for an MRI scan may not be appropriate but advice as to the symptoms which would warrant immediate attendance at Accident and Emergency may be.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering the permanent symptoms of cauda equina syndrome due to a delay by the GP in responding to symptoms, contact Glynns Solicitors.

We have supported numerous clients in making highly-successful claims for compensation in just such circumstances and one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors will be very happy to discuss your situation with you.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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