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Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence Review

Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence Review

A new report into the provision of spinal services by the NHS has highlighted failings in the management of cauda equina syndrome.

Quoting a national audit covering over 4,000 referrals for cauda equina syndrome in 28 spinal units across the UK over a six-month period, the report stated that the standards for referral and investigation of cauda equina syndrome are not being met.

Given that, as the report points out, 23% of litigation claims in England for spinal surgery relate to cauda equina syndrome, maybe there is a need to address the current failings in the profession.

The standards as set by the Society of British Neurological Surgeons and the British Association of Spine Surgeons regarding the initial referral and investigation of this appalling condition state the following:

  • The reliability of clinical diagnosis of threatened or actual CES is low and there should be a low threshold for investigation with an emergency MRI scan at the request of the examining clinician and MRI must be available at the referring hospital 24/7
  • The decision to perform the MRI does not require discussion with the local spinal services
  • The MRI must be undertaken as an emergency in the patient's local hospital and a diagnosis achieved prior to any discussion with the spinal services
  • The MRI must take precedence over routine cases and any reasons for a delay or a decision not to perform an emergency scan should be clearly documented
  • If MRI is contraindicated, discussion with local spinal services is appropriate


Glynns Solicitors receive over one hundred inquiries regarding cauda equina syndrome medical negligence every year. The vast majority of these enquiries relate to the failure by medical professionals to refer their patients for an emergency MRI scan when they attend the professional with possible symptoms of this shocking condition.

If diagnosis is delayed due to a failure to make a referral there is the possibility that the patient's condition will deteriorate before they receive a diagnosis and undergo surgery. This can mean that the patient is left with a significantly worse long-term outcome than would have been the case had they received a referral for an emergency MRI scan when they first attended their GP or Accident and Emergency facility.

Long-term symptoms of complete cauda equina syndrome include bladder and bowel incontinence and loss of mobility and sexual function.

In such circumstances, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering the long-term problems associated with cauda equine syndrome due to a failure to manage your condition appropriate, contact Glynns Solicitors to talk to a specialist 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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