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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Failure to Act on Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms

Failure to Act on Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms

James had been suffering with sciatica for some time when he developed intense pain in his back, left leg and left buttock. He attended A & E where he was examined by a doctor, told that he had a slipped disc and sent home with pain relief. In fact, her was developing cauda equina syndrome and required emergency surgery.

Returning to A & E the following day with worsening symptoms, James now complained of pins and needles and numbness with weakness down his left leg and affecting his foot. He was seen by an out-of-hours GP who provided further pain relief but no red flag warnings of cauda equina syndrome and no referral for further investigation.

Worried about his deteriorating symptoms, James went to see his own GP later that week. Having undertaken a thorough examination, the GP recognised the urgency of the situation and telephoned the hospital to arrange for James to see a neurosurgeon that day. Sadly, however, when James arrived at A & E this consultation no longer seemed possible. James was now becoming concerned about a change in his bladder habits and requested a scan but was told by the doctor who examined him that his symptoms did not justify that.

Eventually, seventeen days after his first visit to A & E, and inconsiderable pain, James was asked to return to hospital to see a neurosurgeon, an appointment that had been requested by his GP.

The neurosurgeon was surprised not to have seen James much sooner and arranged for an MRI scan to be carried out that day. It became apparent at this point that James was in need of emergency surgery to decompress the nerves at the base of his spine and he was asked to return to hospital the following day.

James finally underwent surgery in the afternoon of the following day but has been left with symptoms of cauda equina syndrome which he might well have avoided had the implications of his symptoms been recognised when he first attended A & E.

James continued to suffer numbness and weakness in his left leg for some time and began to experience bladder and bowel difficulties. Two years after his original surgery, it was necessary for him to undergo a second operation to his lumbar spine. It is quite possible that, had he received more timely treatment the first time round, this second procedure may not have been necessary.

Following periods when he was unable to work, James has now been able to return to employment although he is restricted in some duties and his domestic and social activities have been likewise limited by the effects of his delayed diagnosis.

James contacted Glynns Solicitors for support in making a compensation claim for his poor level of medical treatment and resulting disability. We instructed medical experts to assess the quality of his treatment and he has, as a consequence, been awarded in excess of £75,000 in compensation.

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

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