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Cauda Equina Syndrome - Was My Hospital Negligent?

Cauda Equina Syndrome - Was My Hospital Negligent?

Cauda equina syndrome is a disabling condition which can require prompt diagnosis and emergency surgery. Frequently, however, patients are sent home with pain relief and no diagnosis.

Failing to recognise cauda equina syndrome

A number of our clients, who have subsequently made highly-valuable compensation claims, had attended their GP and Accident and Emergency units on several occasions with the early symptoms of cauda equina syndrome before finally getting an accurate diagnosis. By the time the diagnosis was made, however, their chance of a good outcome from surgery had been lost.

Given the potential for cauda equina syndrome to destroy a person's quality of life, it seems extraordinary when indications of the condition are ignored.

Red flag symptoms

The red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome which should prompt immediate further investigation include the following:

  • Changes in experience of urinating such as poor flow or having to strain
  • Loss of awareness of needing to urinate
  • Loss of sensation when urinating
  • Loss of sensation and/or control around the bowel
  • Tingling or loss of sensation between the legs
  • Changes in sexual sensation/function
  • Bilateral leg pain, tingling, weakness

If a patient attends hospital with pain in the lower back and legs, it is frequently diagnosed as sciatica. If that patient is, however, exhibiting other symptoms, such as tingling or loss of sensation in the saddle area, they could be developing cauda equina syndrome and require an emergency MRI scan to confirm the underlying cause of their pain.

If the patient is sent home without further investigation, despite having described their additional symptoms, the hospital might be considered to have acted negligently.

Delayed surgery

The problem arises when the patient's symptoms subsequently deteriorate, meaning that they have missed the optimum moment for surgery.

Undergoing decompression surgery after losing bladder sensation is generally thought to increase the likelihood of a poor outcome.

If medical professionals have facilitated the deterioration in the patient's symptoms by failing to take the appropriate action when that patient first attended Accident and Emergency, they may be held responsible for the extent to which the patient's long-term outcome is worsened by the subsequent delay in diagnosis and surgery.

Seek legal advice

If you or a loved one are suffering long-term problems due to a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of cauda equina syndrome, contact us today at Glynns Solicitors.

We have supported many victims of delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome and one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors will be happy to advise you.

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

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"Before we contacted you we had no real idea that we had grounds for a medical negligence claim but after speaking to you if became clear that Wendy was indeed treated poorly. Chris took the time to explain what was happening and kept us to speed. Our deepest gratitude to you all and Chris in particular."

"I would like to say a big thank you to you for making this whole process easy and relatively painless. You kept me informed throughout and you were always polite and courteous in all forms of communication. I would not hesitate to recommend you to friends and family, so a really big thank you and I wish you all the best in the future."

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