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Delay in Operating After Cauda Equina Diagnosis Made

Delay in Operating After Cauda Equina Diagnosis Made

Once a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is made, surgical decompression must be carried out straight away. If there is a delay in operating after a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome has been confirmed, there may be a case of medical negligence.

If you were subject to delays during your cauda equina treatment, please get in touch with us to discuss making a medical negligence compensation claim.

Decompression surgery - emergency operation

Cauda equina syndrome must be treated with decompression surgery. This involves removing the disc, lesion or other element that is pressing upon the nerves.

The timing of this operation is very important. Cauda equina syndrome is a condition that progresses very quickly. It begins as 'incomplete', where the patient still has some control over their bladder. Within hours or days, the condition can become 'complete', where the patient has no control over their bladder.

Once the condition is complete, permanent nerve damage has been sustained. Therefore surgery has to be carried out before this happens - while the condition is still incomplete. That is why decompression surgery is considered an emergency.

There is debate as to how much time doctors have to make a diagnosis and undertake surgery. Not every case is the same, and in some patients the condition will develop more slowly. Generally it is accepted that only 24 to 48 hours should pass before surgery is provided, starting from the onset of symptoms.

Delay in surgery after diagnosis

Therefore once a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is made, no time should be wasted in arranging emergency decompression surgery. Ideally the operation should be the same day. If a diagnosis is obtained very late at night, it may be acceptable to wait until the following morning.

However, there are times when decompression surgery is delayed, even after doctors have diagnosed cauda equina syndrome. This might be because doctors do not appreciate the urgency with which treatment is needed, do not have space on the surgical list, or do not have the resources to perform such surgery.

Whatever the reason, a delay in treating cauda equina syndrome is not acceptable. Decompression surgery should be carried out on an emergency basis. If the hospital cannot achieve this, another hospital must be found and an emergency transfer made.

If treatment is delayed because errors are made during the diagnostic process, this will also be considered unacceptable.

Claiming compensation

If your cauda equina syndrome was not treated quickly enough, either because of delays in a diagnosis or delays after a diagnosis, there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Please contact us for further information on making a claim for compensation.

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