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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis

Negligent Cauda Equina Deterioration Prompts Seven-Figure Compensation

Negligent Cauda Equina Deterioration Prompts Seven-Figure Compensation Debbie's shocking experience of cauda equina syndrome is an example of how only a few days without appropriate medical care can change a person's life forever.

Having hurt her back whilst picking something up at home, Debbie attended her GP and was diagnosed with sciatica. Becoming concerned about numbness in the genital area, she contacted NHS 111 and attended Accident and Emergency later that day. Despite describing her odd 'numb' sensation, she was discharged home.

Debbie's records describe her being given red flag warnings of cauda equina syndrome but, in the view of our medical expert, Debbie was already suffering from incomplete cauda equina syndrome and should, at this stage, have been referred for specialist opinion, leading to an MRI scan and surgery to decompress her spine.

The following day, Debbie returned to her GP with numbness in the saddle region and again to Accident and Emergency the following morning where her two days of saddle anaesthesia was noted. By this time, Debbie was also complaining of being unable to feel when she went to the toilet.

Returning to A&E that evening, she was starting to experience urinary symptoms, having to strain to urinate. Again she was advised of the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome despite already having them. Extraordinarily, the same pattern occurred the next day.

It was not until the following day, now four days after her initial presentation at Accident and Emergency, when an out-of-hours assessment considered that Debbie's symptoms were indicative of cauda equina syndrome and further assessments that evening and overnight led to an MRI scan which revealed a central disc prolapse and compression of the cauda equina nerves.

Debbie underwent surgery later that day.

Unfortunately, Debbie now suffers with bladder and bowel dysfunction as well as sexual dysfunction and perineal discomfort. She experiences numbness as well as altered sensation in her left leg and foot, causing mobility difficulties.

The view of our medical expert is that, had Debbie been referred for an MRI scan when she first attended Accident and Emergency complaining of 'numbness around the genital area', leading to surgery that day or the next, she would not have gone on to suffer the loss of bladder and bowel function. The delay of only a few days was enough to change her physical and psychological outcome permanently.

Debbie's physical symptoms and her concerns around continence issues continue to affect many aspects of her life, necessitating considerable family support and restricting the activities and work which she is able to undertake.

As a result, following our investigation into the quality of her care and in recognition of the impact on her quality of life, Debbie was awarded in excess of £1 million in compensation.

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

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