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Written by Julie Marsh

Jayne began experiencing worsening back pain, and couldn’t tolerate sitting down. The pain extended from her back into her left leg and foot and Jayne was unable to walk properly. She had difficulty coping with the pain at work.

Deteriorating symptoms

On 2 June, Jayne made an emergency appointment to see her GP. At the time she saw the GP, she had begun to feel numbness in her saddle area, and she told the GP about the pain in her back travelling down her left leg and into her left foot and the new symptoms of numbness.

Although Jayne asked for a referral for an MRI scan and a referral to a back specialist, the GP declined. The GP suggested the back problem would resolve itself, and that she should return in a month for a reassessment.

Five days later, Jayne was in so much pain, and the numbness had persisted, and so she attended the Accident & Emergency Department at Royal Berkshire Hospital. She continued to report lower back pain that was shooting down her left leg. She also told the triage nurse that her bottom felt numb, and she was not able to feel passing stools. 

Medical negligence claims - Cauda equina compensation - Jayne's Story

In 2009 Jayne woke up in agony she didn't know she had cauda equina syndrome, following a series of failures to diagnose her condition she made a claim for medical negligence compensation. This is Jayne's story...

Sciatica misdiagnosis

Although Jayne was examined by a doctor, she was advised that a diagnosis of sciatica had been reached, and she was discharged to her GP’s care. There was no onward referral for an MRI examination.

On 11 June, Jayne returned to see her GP. By this time, she was not sensing the need to pass urine. 

The GP suggested that her symptoms were in status quo, and again refused to make any onward referral.

The next day, on 12 June, Jayne re-attended the Accident & Emergency Department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  She was again diagnosed with sciatica, and discharged to be followed up by the GP, who was to make a referral to the orthopaedic surgeons.

Cauda equina syndrome diagnosis

It wasn’t until 25 June, when Jayne paid privately for an MRI scan, that a large left posterior disc prolapse was identified.

Jayne's treating physiotherapist reviewed the MRI scan results and, concerned with the findings, referred Jayne to a Consultant Spinal Surgeon at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. She was admitted for surgery the next day.

Ongoing problems following delay in diagnosis

Unfortunately as a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment of her cauda equina syndrome, Jayne was left with persistent and permanent urinary and faecal incontinence, a permanent loss of sexual sensation, altered sensation in the left perianal region, left gluteal area and the back of her left thigh, and a psychological reaction to her injuries.

As a result of her ongoing symptoms, Jayne was unable to return to her job in retail.

Making a medical negligence claim

A claim was brought against both the GP and the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. After High Court proceedings were started, negligence was admitted by the Royal Berkshire Trust. Judgment was entered against them.  The claim against the GP was discontinued.

Expert evidence was then obtained from a consultant neurosurgeon, a urologist, a psychiatrist and a general surgeon. Expert reports were also obtained from a care and assistance expert. The evidence from the consultant neurosurgeon was that, with earlier intervention, Jayne would have been left with ongoing lower back pain, but none of her other symptoms.

After the matter had been listed for trial, a settlement figure of £400,000 plus full costs was negotiated by Boyes Turner LLP’s medical negligence solicitors and Counsel, Clodagh Bradley at the beginning of May.

There was no cost to our client in bringing this cauda equina syndrome claim which was brought through a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement.