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Is a delayed MRI Scan for Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligent?

Is a delayed MRI Scan for Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligent?

An MRI scan is crucial in determining the urgency of treatment for cauda equina syndrome. A failure to make the appropriate referral for a scan, leaving the patient to suffer a poor long-term outcome, may be regarded as substandard care.

Emergency surgery for cauda equina syndrome can make the difference between a good recovery and a lifetime of disability. For this to take place, an MRI scan is required in order to assess the underlying causes of the patient's symptoms. It is vital that medical professionals understand the significance of the patient's symptoms and the associated need for an urgent or emergency MRI scan.

  • Patients who are starting to exhibit the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome such as saddle anaesthesia and changes in bladder sensation and function may require an emergency MRI scan and emergency surgery. At this point, the patient may have incomplete cauda equina syndrome and requires attention within hours rather than days. A delay may allow the patient to deteriorate to complete cauda equina syndrome when surgery seems less likely to bring about recovery.
  • Patients whose symptoms have not advanced to this point but who, nonetheless, are showing signs that they may be developing cauda equina syndrome with bilateral leg symptoms may still require an urgent MRI scan within 48 hours of assessment. If the patient's cauda equina nerves are being compressed, perhaps by a prolapsed disc, the earlier surgical decompression is carried out, the better their recovery is likely to be.
  • Patients whose symptoms have deteriorated to complete cauda equina syndrome (they may have painless retention of urine and possible incontinence), may still benefit from prompt surgery and, although there may not be the urgency associated with patients at an earlier stage of this appalling condition, they may still require urgent rather than emergency attention.

Unfortunately, we have worked with many clients whose red flags symptoms have been misdiagnosed or ignored, sometimes repeatedly. This unacceptable situation has meant that the patient's MRI scan has been delayed, a confirmed diagnosis has been delayed and, therefore, the vital surgery has been delayed.

Where this has led to a worse long-term outcome for the patient, it has also led to a claim for compensation.

Where the unnecessary delays have meant that the patient's symptoms have deteriorated prior to surgery and the outcome of surgery has been poor, the medical professionals responsible for the delay may be regarded as having acted negligently.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering from the shocking permanent effects of cauda equina syndrome due to medical failings, contact us to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor about making a claim for compensation.

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

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