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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Out-of-Hours Negligence Leaves Patient with Permanent Cauda Equina Syndrome

Out-of-Hours Negligence Leaves Patient with Permanent Cauda Equina Syndrome

Although Anna had experienced some back pain earlier in her life, she had had very few symptoms for several years when a bout of coughing prompted sudden and intense pain.

The pain, as well as pins and needles, travelled down her left leg to her foot.

In extreme discomfort, Anna visited her GP the following morning and was diagnosed with sciatica. Her pain continued for the next week and so Anna attended an appointment with a chiropractor in the hope of finding some relief.

Following her appointment, Anna realised that, not only was she starting to find it difficult to urinate, but that she was starting to lose sensation around her saddle area and left buttock.

Anna did not realise that these are symptoms of cauda equina syndrome but was so concerned by her new symptoms that she contacted the Out-of-Hours service. She explained her concerns to the call handler who arranged for a nurse to ring her back.

Anna explained to the nurse that, following on from sciatica, she was now experiencing numbness down her left side and was having difficulty urinating.

Anna ought to have been advised to go to Accident and Emergency immediately as urinary problems alongside lower back pain are red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and a delay in diagnosis and surgery can lead to a lifetime of incontinence and mobility losses.

Instead, Anna was told that a doctor would ring her. However, this call was never made.

Had Anna been properly assessed by the out-of-hours service, it is likely that she would have been advised to go to hospital straightaway. Our medical experts have advised us that this should have led to her undergoing decompression of her spine the following afternoon.

Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Two days after her conversation with the Out-of-Hours service, Anna attended Accident and Emergency where the decision was made to blue light her to another hospital where she finally underwent the necessary surgery.

By this time, however, Anna's symptoms had deteriorated still further.

Timing of surgery for cauda equina syndrome is key to the patient's long-term outcome. Where a delay in surgery allows the patient's symptoms to deteriorate, there can be less likelihood that function will be recovered.

Sadly, this has been the case for Anna, who now continues to suffer with both bowel and bladder problems and reduced mobility.

Her ability to work is now limited by her disabilities and her ability to carry out normal daily tasks is restricted.

Anna approached Glynns Solicitors for support in investigating the quality of service provided to her and we found that the Out-of-Hours service had been negligent in failing to carry out a proper assessment of her condition.

As a result of this negligence, Anna has to cope with her reduced abilities every day.

Anna received in excess of £400,000 in compensation for her pain, suffering and financial losses due to her negligent medical care.

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

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