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Mistakes happen when medical professionals fail to consider rare conditions. Nearly all cauda equina syndrome (CES) claims arise from GPs or (junior) A&E doctors mistaking the patient’s symptoms for more minor conditions, such as back pain. 

A patient who complains of severe back pain may have other symptoms, which the doctor must check for to be sure that early warning signs of cauda equina are not missed. These signs and symptoms may include altered feeling in the lower limbs, sexual areas, perineum and anus, and urinary problems such as incontinence, retention and lack of sensation whilst urinating.

Early recognition of cauda equina is essential as, without emergency surgery, permanent disability occurs very quickly after the patient begins having symptoms.

A patient, who is thought to be developing cauda equina syndrome (CES) requires urgent neurosurgical review including an MRI scan of their spine and emergency surgery to release (decompress) the pressure on their spinal cord.

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Find out how we helped Jayne recover compensation after suffering a serious spinal injury

Recent cauda equina syndrome cases

£800,000 compensation for a 40-year-old man after his GP failed to examine him and recognise red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome (CES). The failure to diagnose CES led to delays in surgical treatment, including a lumbar discectomy and decompression operation. He has permanent bowel and bladder damage, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. In addition to his settlement, our client received an admission of liability and letter of apology from the GP.

£400,000 compensation for a woman whose red flag warning signs of cauda equina syndrome were not recognised by her GP or hospital A&E staff. Her condition was finally recognised by a physiotherapist who referred her to a consultant spinal surgeon after our client paid for a private MRI scan. She underwent surgery but had already suffered permanent disability, including bowel and bladder incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, altered sensation around her left perianal region, buttock and left thigh, and psychological injury.

£275,000 compensation for a client with a history of back pain whose GP failed to recognise his red flag signs of cauda equina syndrome and refer him to hospital as a medical emergency. When our client attended A&E three days later, an MRI scan revealed a lumbar disc prolapse with cauda equina. He underwent emergency surgical decompression but was left with permanent disability, including fatigue, leg pain and weakness, and impaired urinary, bowel and sexual function, as a result of the GP’s delay in referring him to hospital.

£250,000 compensation for a client with a history of back pain and surgery, who suffered permanent disability after hospital delays in diagnosis of signs of CES. She was finally referred for emergency spinal surgery after arranging a private appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon via her health insurance. She now has permanent disability from severe pain and numbness in her leg and foot, lack of sensation in the ‘saddle’ area, impaired bowel and bladder control, and a psychological injury.

An admission of liability and compensation for a client who was negligently discharged from hospital whilst suffering red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. Correct hospital treatment would have led to urgent spinal cord decompression surgery and avoided our client’s permanent injury, including leg weakness and sexual dysfunction.

Meet your team

Susan Brown

Partner

Richard Money-Kyrle

Partner

Julie Marsh

Senior associate - solicitor

Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

Sita Soni

Associate - solicitor

Tara Byrne

Solicitor

Ben Ireland

Solicitor

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Cauda equina negligence claims

Cauda equina may be missed when a doctor:

  • fails to listen to the patient’s description of their symptoms
  • fails to question the patient carefully about their symptoms
  • fails to examine the patient properly
  • fails to identify or rule out “red flag” (emergency) symptoms of cauda equina
  • incorrectly diagnoses back pain without checking for cauda equina
  • fails to arrange urgent surgical review and treatment for a patient with cauda equina red flag symptoms
  • fails to advise a patient with symptoms of back pain to call for urgent medical help if they develop symptoms of cauda equina

CES claims can also arise from:

  • negligent cauda equina decompression surgery
  • failure to recognise and treat post-operative complications
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How much is a cauda equina claim worth?

Each client’s injury and the way it affects them is unique. Their compensation award takes this into account and reflects their individual circumstances. Most of our clients find that their CES disability reduces their independence and ability to carry out daily activities at home and at work.  We work closely with our clients and a team of trusted experts to understand the impact that the injury has had on our client’s life.

Whilst compensation cannot take away the injury, it can pay for solutions to ease the day-to-day difficulties faced by people who have been injured by CES. Our past clients tell us that their compensation also provides peace of mind. A successful claim can replace lost income. It also provides the financial security that comes with knowing that their ongoing needs will be met.

We recover compensation for our clients’:

  • injury, pain, and disability/loss of function
  • loss of earnings, where they have been unable to return to work
  • adaptations to their home, where needed, to improve accessibility, bathroom/bedroom facilities, and accommodate carers or specialist equipment
  • specialist equipment, e.g. wheelchairs and adapted vehicles
  • the cost of therapies, e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy
  • additional costs of care and home help
  • psychological counselling
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Why use Boyes Turner’s cauda equina lawyers for your claim?

Boyes Turner’s spinal injury specialists have over 30 years’ experience of successfully handling cauda equina syndrome claims. We understand exactly what can and does go wrong and when a claim is likely to succeed. 

We have recovered substantial compensation for clients whose CES treatment was negligently delayed, leading to:

  • permanent disability
  • impaired mobility
  • paralysis
  • pain and numbness
  • impaired bowel and bladder function and incontinence
  • sexual dysfunction
  • psychological injury

Our thorough but sensitive approach to cauda equina cases gives each client the reassurance that their case is in skilled hands. Cauda equina can affect bowel and bladder function, sexual function and feeling around the genital, perineal and anal region as well as movement of the lower limbs. Whilst we understand that clients may initially be worried about discussing the deeply personal aspects of CES injury, our solicitors are experienced at supporting people through this process and putting our clients at ease.

 

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How is negligence proven in cauda equina cases?

As experts in successful cauda equina cases, we know the issues that the court needs to determine, and the information that independent medical experts will need to form their opinions.  The key to winning a cauda equina claim is being able to give the court detailed and accurate evidence of the nature, timing and sequence of our client’s signs and symptoms.

We achieve this by:

  • understanding the way that cauda equina develops;
  • knowing the warning signs (red flag symptoms);
  • fully exploring with detailed specific questioning our client’s recollections of the development of their signs/symptoms;
  • listening to the recollections of family/friends who witnessed these symptoms occurring, or were told about them at the time;
  • gathering the contemporaneous medical evidence of our client’s condition, including:
    • GP records;
    • hospital records;
    • scans;
    • NHS telephone records.
  • preparing detailed, relevant and accurate statements from our client and other witnesses.

The more accurately we can establish the facts of our client’s condition, the quicker and easier it is to identify where negligent healthcare (such as delay or misdiagnosis) caused or worsened the client’s CES disability.

We do this by:

  • understanding the guidelines and standards of practise which set out how GPs, A&E doctors, radiologists and spinal/neurosurgeons/doctors] must treat patients who have or are at risk of cauda equina;
  • gathering evidence of the doctor’s failure to act in accordance with those standards/guidelines, including:
    • GP records;
    • hospital records;
    • scans;
    • NHS telephone transcripts/records;
    • NICE guidelines;
    • hospital guidelines and protocols.
  • obtaining reports on the standard of care by medical experts in the defendant’s doctor’s field of medicine, such as:
    • general practice (GP);
    • accident and emergency medicine (A&E);
    • radiology;
    • spinal surgery or neurosurgery.
  • obtaining reports on causation (i.e. did the failings in care cause the injury?) from medical experts in cauda equina, including:
    • neurosurgeons;
    • spinal injury experts;
    • neurologists;
    • psychologists;
    • colorectal surgeons;
    • urologists.
Read more

What is cauda equina syndrome (CES)?

What are the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

Why is cauda equina syndrome a medical emergency?

What causes cauda equina syndrome?
Can the condition be reversed?
How can you prove cauda equina syndrome was treated negligently?

How much compensation can you get for medical negligence?

How to make a medical negligence claim?

How long do medical negligence claims take?

How to fund a medical negligence claim?

How can you prove medical negligence?
Is there a time limit for claiming medical negligence compensation?
Will I need to go to court to claim medical negligence compensation?

Cauda equina cases

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What our clients say

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"We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough"

Words cannot express how grateful we are to Susan and her team for the level of commitment and dedication shown to our family during a time which would be difficult for anyone. Susan demonstrates a calm professional manner which helped us to feel at ease. Her level of knowledge has proven to be the best in the field and we fully recommend her to anyone seeking to investigate birth injury claims. You can be confident that Susan and her team will scrutinise the medical notes thoroughly and will keep you well informed throughout the process. We are very pleased with the outcome of our child’s case and know that her work has resulted in justice being achieved. Our family will now be able to move forward in the knowledge that the finances are securely in place for our child to receive a suitable care package, purchase equipment and receive necessary lifelong therapy. We cannot thank Susan and her team at Boyes Turner enough.

Boyes Turner Client

"I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell"

I would like to say a huge thank you to Fran Rothwell for the exceptional work that she has carried out on my behalf. She is knowledgeable, efficient and has great attention to detail.Fran has kept me informed throughout the entire process and has been a great support to me, always being at the end of the phone, or on an email, whenever I needed her. She truly wants the best for her client and is passionate about getting justice. Fran also has a kind and compassionate nature and takes her time to explain what is going on in a clear and simple way. This has been extremely helpful to me during a difficult time.It is certainly reassuring having such strong women behind me.

Boyes Turner Client

"The journey with Julie was interesting! "

From a speculative inquiry to a life changing award, the journey with Julie Marsh was interesting. Julie kept me informed along the way explaining exactly what was going on and more importantly why. The team that was assembled certainly knew their stuff which meant I got all the necessary support to keep going. Thank you all. 

Kevin Ridsdale

"Successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation"

Boyes Turner staff were always helpful and quick to respond. Communicating from the other side of the world presented no problems. Boyes Turner secured generous early interim payments that allowed me to continue my (non-funded) medical treatment that otherwise I could never have afforded. My Boyes Turner solicitor successfully negotiated a full and fair compensation and continuation of funding for future medical treatment and associated costs giving me great peace of mind. Thank you so much Annabelle! I would recommend Boyes Turner solicitors. They are professional, courteous and helpful. 

Brian

"More compensation than expected"

"Boyes Turner provided us really great support and the staff are very professional & supportive. They kept us up to date at all stages and helped us win the case. We got more compensation than expected. We will definitely recommend them to our friends". 

Boyes Turner client