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Medico-legal Issues in Cauda Equina Syndrome

Medico-legal Issues in Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome can cause catastrophic and life-changing neurological symptoms including bowel and bladder dysfunction as well as sexual dysfunction and loss of mobility. It can also be a justification for a significant claim for compensation for medical negligence.

Why is this a medical negligence issue?

Problems arise when a patient who is developing cauda equina syndrome does not receive appropriate and timely care, leaving them with vastly worse on-going symptoms than they would probably have had if their management by medical professionals had been different.

Recognition and investigation of symptoms

A fundamental issue around cauda equina syndrome is the accurate diagnosis of the condition. It is not a common condition and some medical practitioners may not be familiar with its various symptoms. However, such is the destructive nature of its symptoms and so high is the risk of litigation that it should rate quite highly in the minds of those facing patients with lower back pain.

Where a patient attends a medical professional with lower back and leg pain, possibly with weakness and tingling in the leg(s), it is necessary to check for further symptoms of developing cauda equina syndrome.

Where the medical professional fails to do this, or where they fail to warn the patient of the red flag symptoms of the condition, they may be regarded as having acted negligently.

Referral for an MRI scan

An MRI scan is essential in the confirmation of the cause of the patient's symptoms if nerve compression is being considered. Where a medical professional fails to refer a patient who is displaying red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome for an urgent or emergency MRI scan, they may be thought to have acted negligently.

Undertaking and reporting of an MRI scan

Where the organisation and undertaking of the MRI scan is unreasonably delayed, leading inevitably to a delay in surgery, the hospital in question may be regarded as having provided substandard care.

Timing of surgery

The timing of surgery for cauda equina syndrome can be crucial to the outcome for the patient. Where the patient is regarded as having incomplete cauda equina syndrome, surgery is an emergency, to be carried out within hours rather than days, before the patient's condition deteriorates.

Making a claim for compensation

If your on-going cauda equina symptoms are due to a failing on the part of your medical professionals, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Contact us today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor with expertise in cauda equina syndrome claims.

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