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Cauda Equina Syndrome NHS
Cauda Equina Syndrome NHS

Cauda Equina Syndrome and the NHS

Cauda equina syndrome can be a life-changing condition and compensation claims against the NHS for mishandling of the illness can reach six-figure numbers. What should a patient expect from the National Health Service (NHS)?

Why cauda equina syndrome matters

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition that can develop when the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed. It can lead to the following incredibly unpleasant symptoms:

  • Inability to control loss of urine
  • Inability to control bowel movements
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pain and weakness in the legs
  • Foot drop

The timing of the diagnosis and treatment of this shocking syndrome are absolutely crucial and the consequence of mishandling by medical practitioners can mean that the above-mentioned symptoms become life-long. It is the failure to spot these conditions that leads to medical negligence claims against the NHS.

Key Factors in Patient Outcome

The key to the best outcome from cauda equina syndrome is to obtain a prompt diagnosis followed by emergency decompression surgery.

If an accurate diagnosis can be confirmed whilst the patient still retains some urinary function, it is widely accepted that emergency surgery can offer a chance of a good recovery.

If diagnosis is delayed due to incompetence, ignorance or mishandling, however, the long-term effects on the patient can be catastrophic. If the patient's symptoms then deteriorate to the point of painless urinary retention and urinary incontinence before surgery is undertaken, the NHS medical practitioners may be guilty of medical negligence.

Therefore, urgent diagnosis is key.

What should the patient expect?

To this end, when a patient presents to their GP or A & E department with red flag symptoms such as altered experience when urinating, tingling or numbness in the 'saddle' area and pain in one or both legs, it is imperative that they are referred for an emergency MRI scan in order to confirm a diagnosis of cauda equina compression.

Depending on the patient's symptoms and degree of existing dysfunction, the confirmed diagnosis should initiate a plan for surgery. Even where the patient's symptoms have deteriorated, surgery within a couple of days is thought to be beneficial.

A delay in surgery, as with a delay in diagnosis, can inevitably allow time for the patient to deteriorate to the point where their anticipated prognosis might not be so optimistic.

Medical Negligence Claims Against The NHS

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare condition and many medical practitioners may not be familiar with it. The severity of its impact, however, should require an uncertain GP or A & E practitioner to seek further advice when presented with symptoms which do not sit comfortably with an alternative explanation.

Glynns Solicitors have been called upon to support numerous cases where the NHS failed to recognise or treat cauda equina syndrome symptoms with the necessary speed, leading to highly distressing outcomes.

If you continue to suffer with the long-term effects of this condition due to a delay in your diagnosis, contact us to discuss your experience with a skilled medical negligence solicitor.

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

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