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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis

Delayed Diagnosis Leads to Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Delayed Diagnosis Leads to Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome A failure by medical professionals to recognise the possible implications of his perineal symptoms allowed Richard's nerve compression to worsen before surgery was carried out. He is now struggling with the consequences of this failing.

Richard had been experiencing pain in his lower back and left leg for some time when a sudden deterioration prompted him to call the Ambulance Service. He explained that he was in terrible pain, could not feel anything from the middle down and could not move.

On examination at hospital, it was noted that Richard was experiencing loss of sensation from hips to calves in both legs. He was unable to mobilise without assistance and was described as having no sensation in the upper part of his legs, buttocks and genitalia. However, there is no evidence that Richard was suffering significant problems with either his bladder or bowel function at this stage.

It was planned to arrange for Richard to undergo an MRI scan to assess the possible cause of his symptoms but this did not happen until two days later.

When Richard approached Glynns to investigate the quality of his medical care, it was confirmed by our medical expert that the symptoms which Richard was experiencing on his arrival at hospital should have prompted an immediate referral to a spinal specialist and an emergency MRI scan, leading to a diagnosis of cauda equina compression in the lower back and emergency surgery.

Unfortunately, Richard did not undergo nerve decompression surgery until more than two days after his first arrival at hospital. On the morning of the second day, he awoke to realise that he was now unable to pass urine. A bladder scan later that day showed that, in fact, he was retaining more than 999mls of urine. This is a sign of complete cauda equina syndrome, a condition that was confirmed by the MRI scan which was carried out later that day.

Richard now relies on self-catheterisation but it is our expert's view that, had he being diagnosed and undergone surgery on the day of his arrival at hospital, it is likely that he would not now be suffering the debilitating bladder and bowel symptoms which are causing him such distress.

Richard is unable to work in the same capacity as before his operation due to fear of wind and faecal incontinence in the presence of customers. In fact, he struggles to leave his home at all. A formerly active and healthy man, he has struggled emotionally in trying to come to terms with what has happened to him. Knowing that, with competent medical care, this appalling outcome could have been avoided, makes it all the harder.

Following our investigation into the quality of his medical care, Richard has been awarded compensation in excess of £700,000.

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

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