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Written on 13th June 2024 by Sita Soni

Boyes Turner’s spinal injury solicitors secured an £800,000 settlement in a complex claim for a client who was left with cauda equina syndrome (CES) after negligent spinal surgery.  

Our client was in her sixties when she underwent spinal fusion surgery to relieve symptoms of L5 nerve root pain in her back and thigh, and numbness in her legs. She had an extensive and complex medical history of back pain, degenerative scoliosis and narrowing of her spine, as well as multiple additional comorbidities, including fibromyalgia and osteoporosis.

Patient told of last-minute changes to operation on her way to surgery

Our client was advised to undergo surgical fusion surgery after an MRI scan revealed degenerative scoliosis with some slipping forward (spondylolisthesis) of a vertebra and narrowing of the spine in her lower back, which was pinching the L5 nerve root and causing her pain and numbness symptoms. On the way to the operating theatre for surgery, her consultant spinal surgeon told her that the three-level fusion procedure that had been recommended as best for her, and to which she had consented, could not go ahead, as no vascular surgeon was available. Instead, she would undergo two-level fusion surgery.

CES caused by surgeons’ negligent failure to reposition spinal implant during surgery

During the operation, the two surgeons noted that the implant cages they had inserted in her spine were incorrectly positioned, but failed to reposition the cages.  The protruding implant caused compression of our client’s cauda equina nerves. Following an MRI scan, our client underwent urgent decompression surgery, but was left with weakness in her lower legs, foot drops and bowel and bladder incontinence from cauda equina syndrome (CES).

Claim leads to admission of liability and £85,000 interim payment

We put our client’s CES spinal injury claim to the hospital NHS trust, which responded by admitting that their two surgeons’ negligent failure to correct the position of the implant during the surgery had caused our client’s cauda equina syndrome. Whilst the case continued towards an assessment of damages hearing, we secured interim payments totalling £85,000 which helped ease our client’s financial hardship and pay for therapies, a mobility scooter and specialist equipment. 

We prepared for an assessment of damages hearing to resolve differences in the medical experts’ opinions about the impact of our client’s health conditions and the CES injury on her life expectancy, and the extent of her pre-existing disability and further deterioration if she had received the correct standard of surgical care. However, settlement negotiations in the weeks leading up to trial resulted in an £800,000 settlement for our client.

Our client’s compensation, and her entitlement to welfare benefits, are protected by a personal injury trust.

If you or a family member have suffered severe injury as a result of medical negligence or have been contacted by HSSIB/MNSI 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.