£250,000 compensation settlement following a delay in diagnosing cauda equina syndrome

Wendy* approached Boyes Turner to represent her in a medical negligence claim against a hospital who delayed in diagnosing cauda equina syndrome.

Ongoing severe back pain

Wendy had a long history of severe back pain and had previously undergone two discectomy procedures. She went to see her GP when she noticed her lower back pain began to radiate down into her calves. 

When her symptoms persisted Wendy attended an appointment with her osteopath. The osteopath noticed absent reflexes in her left ankle and Wendy was also complaining of numbness in her left leg. No treatment was undertaken, but a follow-up appointment was arranged.

The following day Wendy's symptoms deteriorated and she was having difficulties passing urine. She telephoned her osteopath for an emergency appointment and was advised to attend the hospital immediately.

At the Accident & Emergency Department the casualty officer recorded Wendy's long history of back pain and noted that there was a complete sensory loss in her right buttock which extended down to the top of the right thigh. The doctor advised Wendy to attend her GP and ask for an MRI scan if her symptoms did not improve.

Cauda equina diagnosis made

The next day Wendy was still in a considerable amount of pain. Using her private health cover she arranged an urgent appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon who finally considered a diagnosis of cauda equina and arranged an urgent MRI scan.

Following the results of the MRI, Wendy was admitted for emergency spinal surgery.

Despite the surgery, Wendy continues to suffer from severe pain in her left leg and left foot, together with numbness, persistent saddle anaesthesia and a loss of bowel and bladder control. As a result of her condition she has also developed a psychological injury.

Making a medical negligence claim

Wendy approached Boyes Turner's medical negligence solicitors  and we obtained supportive medical opinions from an expert in Accident and Emergency medicine and a Neurosurgeon. The experts confirmed that the care Wendy received was substandard and if she had been diagnosed when she presented to the hospital with symptoms of back pain and numbness, she would have undergone an MRI Scan immediately, and received emergency surgery much earlier. If she had received the appropriate treatment, her injuries would have been avoided, apart from the ongoing back pain.

A letter was sent to the Hospital setting out the allegations of negligence. In their letter of response, the Hospital admitted that the care Wendy had received in hospital fell below an acceptable standard but denied that earlier treatment would have made a difference to the outcome. A trial date was set but after considerable negotiation a settlement of £250,000 was obtained for Wendy.

There was no cost involved for Wendy in bringing this claim. Upon settlement of her claim Wendy said:

“I would like to thank you and everyone at Boyes Turner for helping me settle this case from start to finish. Albeit it has been somewhat of a tough and trying time to see an end to it but all of you at Boyes Turner have made it easier for me…I think what is really important is the knowledge, understanding and expertise you have in cauda equina syndrome, second to none, and this was right from when I first made the call to you. You were always very approachable, understanding and reassuring and always at the end of the phone. I feel that you went one step further than a solicitors role demands. Once again thank you very much”.

* All names have been changed to protect client privacy. 

The service provided was first class. You were understanding, caring and professional

David Froud

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