Skip to main content

Contact us to arrange your
FREE initial consultation

Call me back Email us

Written on 8th August 2023 by Julie Marsh

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence solicitors secured a £100,000 settlement for a 61-year-old man after an incorrectly reported MRI scan led to a six-week delay in surgical treatment for a spinal cyst. The settlement was reached during a mediation after the defendant NHS trust denied that there had been any negligence in our client’s hospital treatment.

MRI scan reveals a spinal cyst after symptoms of weakness in legs

Our client attended his GP with a month’s history of tiredness and lower limb weakness. Blood tests were ordered but a week later a second GP arranged for him to be reviewed by the medical team at the hospital as he was walking with an odd gait and had altered sensation in his upper leg. He was seen at the hospital the next day where it was noted that he had altered coordination in both his lower limbs and numbness with sciatic distribution (in the areas relating to the sciatic nerve). An MRI scan revealed a thoracic cyst at the T2-3 level of his spine with multiple disc bulges in the cervical (neck area) and lumbar spine.

He was referred to another hospital’s spinal unit and was seen the next day by a spinal surgeon who advised that the cyst was unlikely to be the cause of his symptoms and recommended review by the neurologists to rule out other potential causes. His symptoms included weakness in his right leg and paraesthesia (pins and needles sensation) in his left leg at this time. He was admitted to the hospital and underwent an anaesthetic assessment for urgent T2/T3 decompression surgery (to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord), but after neurological review his surgery was postponed. He was diagnosed with functional neurological syndrome (FND) and discharged home with a plan for a further MRI scan at a later date.

Deterioration after urgent surgical decompression postponed

A few days later he raised his concerns with his GP about the FND diagnosis, which he strongly believed was wrong. By this time his symptoms included paraesthesia from his buttock down through his thigh, back of the calf and also into the right foot. Over the next few days his mobility deteriorated. He struggled to walk with crutches and developed urinary symptoms. He was referred to the hospital where an MRI scan was reported as showing that the size of his cyst and its effect on the spinal cord was “much the same as before”. He was discharged home. His condition deteriorated further, and he needed catheterisation for urinary retention and experienced an episode of faecal incontinence. He became paralysed from the chest down with little or no muscle control, relying solely on his arms for movement.

After multiple calls to his GP surgery, a consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery at the hospital reviewed his MRI scan and recommended an urgent review. He was taken back to the hospital by ambulance where an MRI scan two days later was reported as showing that the cyst had grown, causing a complete loss of signal at that level of the spine. He was transferred to the spinal unit hospital overnight and underwent surgical T2/3 thoracic decompression and resection (removal) of the cyst the next day.

Claiming compensation for additional injury and loss caused by six-week spinal surgery delay

We helped our client pursue a claim for compensation from the NHS trust, based on our radiology and orthopaedic spinal surgery experts’ opinions that the hospital radiologist incorrectly reported the second MRI scan as “much the same as before” when, in fact, it showed an increase in the size of the cyst which was putting additional pressure on the spinal cord. Our experts believed that if the scan had been correctly reported, our client would have undergone thoracic decompression surgery sooner and would have avoided his urinary, bowel and mobility symptoms and his ongoing pain.  

Our client’s claim was limited to the additional injury that was caused by the negligent delay in surgical treatment for his spinal cyst, and his financial losses arising from that additional injury.

The defendant NHS trust denied liability (responsibility) but agreed to our request for alternative dispute resolution via a mediation. At the mediation, we negotiated a settlement which provided our client with financial compensation of £100,000, together with the inclusion of a note in his medical records stating that the diagnosis of FND was wrong.

If you have suffered severe injury as a result of medical negligence or have been contacted by HSIB/HSSIB/MNSI/CQC or NHS Resolution, you can talk to a solicitor, free and confidentially, for advice about how to respond or make a claim by contacting us.