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Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis

In excess of £450,000 For Undiagnosed Cauda Equina Syndrome

After repeatedly seeking medical assistance for six months, doctors eventually realised that Hannah was displaying the red flag symptoms of cauda equina. Sadly the diagnosis was too late and she has been left with permanent neurological damage.

In October 2008, Hannah attended A&E with chronic pain in her back and legs. She was told she had pulled a muscle and was discharged without an examination. Days later the pain began to radiate to her buttocks so her GP referred her for an x-ray. This revealed a prolapsed disc, for which she was given painkillers.

By the beginning of November Hannah was still in severe pain. She also developed numbness in her saddle area, left buttock and left thigh. She was very weak in her left leg and could not stand or walk for any length of time. Because of these symptoms, Hannah attended her GP four times and A&E once, but was simply referred to a physiotherapist.

In early December, Hannah had her first appointment with the physio. She described all her symptoms in detail, after which she was given stronger painkillers. A thorough examination was not performed. Later that month Hannah attended her GP yet again as she was unable to work due to her problems and therefore required a sick note.

By January Hannah was very worried about her condition. She had by now developed difficultly urinating. She attended her GP twice but was told not to worry and to keep taking the painkillers.

On 16th January 2009 Hannah telephoned her GP as she had not passed a bowel motion for 12 days. She was advised to go to A&E where a doctor performed an examination. He said Hannah was very constipated and this was affecting her bladder function. He prescribed some laxatives, saying she did not need emergency treatment.

For the following month Hannah continued to see her GP and the physiotherapist as her symptoms remained the same. Even so, her GP did not seem concerned and said there was nothing that could be done to alleviate the situation.

Eventually the physio ordered an MRI scan to assess Hannah's condition, and once she saw the results referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon. Hannah saw the orthopaedic surgeon on 30th March 2009, during which she described the full extent of her symptoms. Only then was she told that she had cauda equina syndrome and required an operation; if she didn't, she would lose control of her bladder and bowels.

Despite the urgency with which treatment was needed, a discectomy was not performed until 15th May 2009 over seven months after Hannah first presented to her GP. Sadly it was too late and by that point the nerves had been irreparably damaged. This has resulted in permanent neurological complications.

Hannah has been rendered partially paralysed by a delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome. She must use sticks to walk, has chronic pain in her back and legs, and has permanent numbness in her saddle area.

We helped Hannah make a claim against her GPs and the medical practitioners at the hospital, all of whom had the chance to diagnose cauda equina syndrome but failed to do so. She was awarded over £450,000 compensation to reflect the terrible pain and suffering she has wrongfully endured.

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

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