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A man has reportedly recently received £750k for the failure to perform proper investigations to identify a disc prolapse, resulting in cauda equina syndrome.  He now suffers from long term neurological impairment in terms of mobility, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and neuropathic pain.

The man initially experienced pain in his back, weakness in the right leg and an odd sensation in the saddle area. He also experienced a feeling of wanting to urinate but difficulty actually doing so.

The man attended hospital immediately via ambulance following advice from NHS Direct.  An x-ray was performed at hospital and reported as normal. A junior doctor discharged the man and no advice was given other than to return if the symptoms did not improve. No other investigations were carried out.

The following day, the symptoms worsened including lack of sensation in both bowel and bladder function. He called an ambulance and was taken to hospital. An MRI scan was requested which showed the prolapse. Decompression surgery was subsequently carried out.

The hospital admitted they were negligent in failing to suspect cauda equina syndrome and do appropriate investigations. The hospital admitted that if surgery had been undertaken urgently, the man would have not been left with neurological dysfunction and would have had normal bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Sadly, the man was unable to return to full time employment and had difficulties undertaking daily tasks such as driving, socialising and general household tasks. He required assistance from his family. When outdoors, he was reliant on a walking stick. The man also suffered with depression as a result of his long term difficulties.

“It is astonishing that despite this man’s “red flag” symptoms, the doctor at the hospital did not suspect cauda equina syndrome. Red flag symptoms such as numbness, weakness in legs and bladder problems should always warrant urgent further investigation including an MRI scan. Early diagnosis is essential! Unfortunately for this man, due to medical negligence, the diagnosis and surgery was too late to prevent permanent nerve damage.”