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Written by Julie Marsh

Boyes Turner’s cauda equina negligence lawyers secured an admission of liability and compensation settlement from a hospital which discharged our client when he was suffering from symptoms of cauda equina syndrome (CES).

Our client had a pre-existing back problem which was awaiting treatment when he injured his back. The new injury left him in extreme pain and unable to move. The ambulance service were called and he was advised to see his GP. His GP then referred him to the defendant hospital. He attended the hospital with pain, numbness in his bottom, saddle area, genitals and legs.  These were red flag symptoms of cauda equina (CES) which should have led to immediate further investigation and neurosurgical review and urgent surgical decompression of his spinal cord. Instead, he was discharged without any x-rays or MRI scan being undertaken.

At home, he was seen by two different GPs as his symptoms continued to worsen. When he began to suffer from urinary retention, another red flag for cauda equina, he called NHS Direct and was finally taken by ambulance to a different hospital. He underwent emergency spinal cord decompression, which relieved his pain. As a result of the delays in his treatment, he was left with weakness in one leg and sexual dysfunction.

Cauda equina is a medical emergency. When the cauda equina nerve roots at the base of the spinal cord become squeezed or compressed, in this case from a back injury, swift action is needed to refer the patient for neurosurgical review, MRI scanning and emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. Back pain and other red flag symptoms and signs of cauda equina are set out in NICE Guidelines and must be recognised and acted upon quickly by GPS, hospitals and ambulance staff. Any delays in referring a patient for surgical spinal cord decompression can leave the patient with permanent disability.

In this case, staff at the first hospital were negligent in discharging our client home when he presented with red flag symptoms of cauda equina. Correct treatment at that hospital attendance would have led to urgent spinal cord decompression surgery, preventing our client’s permanent disability. 

We put our client’s claim to the hospital, which admitted liability. We were then able to negotiate a settlement to compensate our client for the additional injury that he suffered as a result of the hospital’s cauda equina negligence and resulting delay.

If you have suffered permanent disability from cauda equina negligence and would like to find out more about how our cauda equina lawyers can help you make a claim, contact us by email at