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Cauda Equina Syndrome Treatment Delays

Cauda Equina Syndrome Treatment Delays

Cauda equina syndrome needs to be treated with decompression surgery. This treatment is considered to be an emergency, meaning the patient should be in theatre within 24-48 hours of being admitted.

Delays in cauda equina decompression surgery

But unfortunately medical practitioners do not always manage to treat a patient within this time frame. Sometimes this is due to medical errors that have been made, such as the condition initially being misdiagnosed.

If medical errors are to blame for a delay in treatment, there could be a case of medical negligence, entitling the patient to make a claim against those at fault. So how long might this delay be?

One analysis looked at 22 cauda equina medical negligence cases over the past five years. It found that on average, the delay in diagnosis was 67 hours. The average delay in getting a patient to theatre for decompression surgery was 6.14 days.

This is truly shocking, as cauda equina syndrome needs to be treated as soon as possible ideally within 24 hours of the onset of red flag symptoms. Any longer than 48 hours and the nerves will have sustained severe (and possibly irreparable) damage.

A delay of six days will therefore lead to a poor outcome. By the time treatment is provided, the nerves will have been under such prolonged pressure that permanent injuries have occurred. The patient will be left with long-term neurological dysfunction.

Who is at fault for the delay in treatment?

If you do pursue a medical negligence claim for cauda equina syndrome, your solicitor will need to ascertain who is responsible for the delay in care.

A report by the NHS Litigation Authority found that of the 107 cauda equina claims made between 1997 and 2006, complaints were made against a number of different medical specialists. The clinician or department held responsible was:

  • Orthopaedic in 52% of cases
  • The emergency department in 27% of cases
  • Neurosurgery in 8% of cases
  • Other areas of medical specialism in 13% of cases

Claims may also arise against a GP, a physiotherapist and an out-of-hours service.

Was your care delayed?

If your cauda equina surgery was delayed because of medical errors, you could be in a position to make a claim against those at fault. To find more out more, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors. We specialise in cauda equina syndrome and offer free legal advice to anyone interested in pursuing a claim for negligence.

Call us now for a free, no obligation assessment on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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