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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Persistent Failure to Investigate Cauda Equina Syndrome

Persistent Failure to Investigate Cauda Equina Syndrome

Martin was a fit and active young man with a demanding job and a busy social life. When he began to experience lower back pain, spreading to his right leg and buttock, and numbness in his toes, he hoped that he would be able to resolve it with stretching exercises.

After six months, there was no easing of the pain and Martin was in such pain most days that he would find it difficult to stand, walk or sit. He decided to attend his local A&E because the pain in his lower back and leg had become unbearable and he was starting to be aware of some numbness on his right side and alteration to his bladder and bowel sensation. At A&E he was given a rectal examination and discharged with a prescription for painkillers. He was given no red flag warnings for cauda equina syndrome.

Over the next few months, Martin continued to try to work, relying on painkillers, but eventually collapsed from pain, with pins and needles down his right side. Returning to A&E, he was again given a rectal examination and discharged with painkillers, with advice to seek an MRI scan and physiotherapy via his GP.

Two months later, Martin returned to hospital for his MRI scan which showed that he had a prolapsed disc. Consequently, he was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon in six weeks' time.

Martin had struggled to keep working for much of this time, relying on painkillers. However, he collapsed from pain again before his orthopaedic appointment and, at about this time, began to be aware of tingling and numbness in his groin with difficulties urinating.

When Martin finally had his consultation with a spinal surgeon, he was told that he did not require surgery and was referred for physiotherapy.

He decided to change to a new GP Practice and, after describing his worsening symptoms to his new GP, he was given an urgent referral to a physiotherapist in two days' time.

When Martin met the physiotherapist, he explained his on-going symptoms of lower back pain, numbness in the buttocks and penis, and his urinary problems. The physiotherapist examined Martin including a rectal examination. Although a second MRI scan was arranged for later that day, the physiotherapist did not arrange to see Martin to discuss the results for another week. Martin was then admitted to hospital where, after a bladder scan, it was decided that an emergency discectomy was necessary and Martin underwent the operation the following day.

Sadly, the surgery did not resolve all of Martin's symptoms and he has continued to experience urinary difficulties, pain and numbness. Martin has taken a very proactive approach to his illness and has continued to try to improve his situation with exercise and physiotherapy but this has had little positive impact.

For an active young man, this has been a very difficult experience. Both his working life and social life have been drastically affected. Martin has lost his job as he was unable to fulfil all his duties and this has had a significant psychological impact on him.

Glynns Solicitors supported Martin's claim against the medical practitioners who had let him down over such a long period of time by not investigating his cauda equine syndrome symptoms. He was awarded over £25,000 compensation.

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

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