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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis
Surgery Delays Leave Patient With Cauda Equina Disability

Surgery Delays Leave Patient With Cauda Equina Disability

Despite displaying symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and having a MRI scan showing a herniated disc compressing her nerves, Cheryl's surgery was delayed.

Cheryl only occasionally suffered with back pain so when she experienced persistent but mild pain in her lower back for over two weeks, she became slightly concerned.

Unfortunately the mild pain deteriorated dramatically one day when Cheryl woke in excruciating pain to find that both her legs were feeling numb and would not function properly.

Finding it difficult to stand or walk, Cheryl managed to get an emergency appointment with her GP. After giving Cheryl a thorough examination, the GP became concerned that Cheryl was developing cauda equina syndrome and arranged for an immediate appointment with an orthopaedic specialist at hospital.

However, the medical practitioners at Accident and Emergency did not feel that Cheryl's symptoms warranted an emergency response and sent her home with pain relief and a referral for an MRI scan.

Unfortunately, Cheryl's pain continued to increase to the point where she was sick with pain and, two days later, she went to Accident and Emergency again, at another hospital as advised by her GP.

By this time, Cheryl was showing further signs of cauda equina syndrome with pain and pins and needles down her leg along with lax anal tone and an inability to squeeze using the anal muscles.

She underwent an MRI scan that night which showed a large central disc herniation causing compression of the cauda equina nerves.

Cheryl needed emergency surgery at the latest the following morning.

Unfortunately, when Cheryl was reviewed the following morning, the decision was made not to carry out surgery but to manage Cheryl's symptoms conservatively. This was in spite of her clinical symptoms and her MRI results. Cheryl was not warned of the risk associated with this decision that if her symptoms deteriorated further, her chance of a good outcome from surgery would be reduced.

Sadly, during that day, Cheryl began to notice that she was finding it difficult both to start and stop urination. This is an indication that Cheryl's cauda equina syndrome was worsening.

Consequently, when Cheryl was reviewed again later that day by a different practitioner, his concern was such that he arranged for decompression surgery to be carried out later that same day.

Following the decompression of her cauda equina nerves, Cheryl has experienced some improvement in her symptoms but continues to suffer significant mobility problems, requiring her to rely on a stick. She also continues to suffer debilitating and embarrassing bladder problems as well as bowel problems and loss of sensation in the saddle area.

Consequently, she is restricted in her activity, is only able to work for a few hours a week and has had to move to single storey accommodation.

Glynns supported Cheryl in her claim for compensation and our medical experts found that, had she undergone surgery in the morning following the reporting of her MRI scan, she would probably not now be suffering any bladder problems and would have improved bowel function and mobility.

Unfortunately, Cheryl did not undergo surgery until the evening of the following day, at least 36 hours later than would generally have been regarded as necessary.

As a result of this negligence and in the light of Cheryl's on-going disability, she was awarded in excess of £300,000.

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

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