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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Over £300,000 for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Over £300,000 for Cauda Equina Syndrome

There was a lengthy delay in treating Poppy's cauda equina syndrome. She must now live with permanent disabilities.

In September 2009, Poppy attended her GP's surgery as she was suffering intense pain in her left knee. She was referred to a musculoskeletal triage nurse, although the appointment did not take place until late November.

The triage nurse advised Poppy that she actually had a slipped disc and was suffering from sciatica. She was offered a course of physiotherapy. While she waited for the referral, Poppy attended a chiropractor. This did little to improve her symptoms. She was only able to walk a few yards and had numbness and a tingling sensation down the whole of her left leg.

In late April 2010, she returned to her GP and requested an x-ray or an MRI scan as she was suffering intense pain, had numbness, poor circulation and cold feet. The doctor told Poppy she must instead wait until the physiotherapy appointment.

By 29 April 2010, Poppy was suffering excruciating pain in her left leg. She attended A&E where she was examined by a doctor and received an x-ray. She was given a letter to hand to her GP stating she required an MRI scan and physiotherapy immediately. Poppy delivered the letter two days later, but no action was taken.

On Saturday 5 May 2010, she woke up and found she had lost all feeling from her hips down in both legs, between her legs and her bottom. She also found that she had to really strain when passing urine or a bowel movement. She telephoned NHS direct who advised her to go straight to hospital. A doctor diagnosed cauda equina syndrome and she was immediately sent to a larger hospital with a request for an MRI scan. However, the consultant at the second hospital said he disagreed with the diagnosis.

Poppy asked to be admitted anyway, and two days later had an MRI scan and a catheter inserted. On 8th May, she underwent nerve root injections. She waited another six days before being told an operation was needed to correct the disc, as the gel inside the disc had seeped out and damaged her nerve endings meaning she had cauda equina syndrome.

Spinal decompression was planned for 15th May, but when she came round from the anaesthetic she was told that the operation had not taken place because the MRI scan had been mislaid. She was told another MRI scan would be done the following day.

The operation was rearranged for the morning of 18 May 2010, but that afternoon Poppy was told that the operation was cancelled as the equipment had not arrived. After a delay she was transferred by ambulance to another hospital, and the operation finally went ahead on 19th May 2010.

Before the procedure took place Poppy had spent two weeks in hospital. During this time she was displaying all the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, but clinicians initially disregarded this diagnosis, and then delayed surgery despite the condition needing emergency surgery within 24 - 48 hours.

Poppy has been left with cauda equina syndrome and suffers intense pain. She has to use a catheter at all times. She can only walk and drive short distances. She has had to give up her job. She has no sensation in the 'saddle' area.

Poppy feels very depressed about what has happened to her. She struggles financially, has lost her social life and does not know what she will do for work. She is in constant pain, cannot sleep well and cannot do basic tasks such as carry shopping. Her condition will not improve and she must cope with her disabilities for the rest of her life.

We helped Poppy make a claim for the negligent care she received from her GP and while in hospital. She was awarded in excess of £300,000 compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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