Case Study: GP & Hospital Errors Lead to Cauda Equina Syndrome

Compensation: £2.75 million 

Jean

Jean was left severely debilitated after appalling errors were made in the treatment of cauda equina syndrome by both a GP and a hospital. After contacting the specialist solicitors at JMW for advice, Jean’s case was taken on by Melissa Gardner who secured £2.75 million in compensation to enable her to cope with her disabilities.

GP negligence

One morning Jean began to experience lower back pain. The following day the pain was still there and later that evening it increased significantly and Jean knew that she needed to obtain medical help.

The following morning she called her GP practice as soon as it opened and told the receptionist that she was suffering with considerable pain in her back. The receptionist said that she would relay this information to the doctor and seek his advice.

Jean heard nothing more so called the surgery again; however it took further calls from Jean to get any kind of a response from the surgery. Jean even explained that her condition had deteriorated and she was having difficulty passing urine, which led to her being told that the doctor was preparing a prescription for strong painkillers and this would be available to collect that afternoon.

Jean’s husband collected the prescription but the tablets did little to relieve the pain Jean was in. Later that night she called the GP’s out of hours service and a doctor came out to see her.  He found that she had lost feeling in her lower back and her perineum. By this point Jean had not passed urine for hours and the doctor arranged her emergency admission to hospital.

Hospital admission

Jean arrived at hospital at 10.45pm, many hours after she had first sought help from her GP practice earlier that morning. She was examined by an orthopaedic surgeon and despite the fact that she has not passed urine for several hours, had severe back pain and numbness in her perianal area he concluded that she was probably not suffering from cauda equina syndrome.

Jean was admitted to hospital and her spine X-Rayed and it was decided she ‘might’ need an MRI scan in the morning. In actual fact Jean required an MRI scan very urgently. 

In the morning the doctors conducted their ward round and found Jean’s bladder was very full and that she was unable to pass urine without difficulties. An urgent MRI scan was ordered as it was suspected that her urinary problems were due to cauda equina syndrome.

MRI scan

Despite the urgency of Jean’s situation and the limited time that is available to successfully treat cauda equina syndrome the MRI was not carried out until two days later. The scan revealed a large abscess in Jean’s spine and she was transferred to a larger hospital for specialist spinal surgery. 

By the time Jean arrived at the neurosurgical unit of the hospital she had lost feeling in the lower section of her spine. Feeling and control of her legs and feet was also lost. The surgical team found that that the abscess was pressurising Jean’s nerves at the base of her spine, which is why she had all the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. 

The abscess was drained and antibiotics provided to Jean however by now it was too late to prevent permanent nerve damage and Jean was left with life-long disabilities and pain, as well as bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction.

Successful claim

After Jean was put in touch with the medical negligence specialists at JMW, her case was taken on by Melissa Gardner. Melissa successfully argued that that the errors on the part of both  the GP and hospital had caused appalling delays to urgently needed surgery and this meant that 24-48 hour window to operate successfully was lost. If it had not then Jean would have made a full recovery and the cauda equina syndrome would not have become permanent.

Settlement

Melissa then negotiated a compensation settlement of £2.75 million for Jean to help her to cope with the financial implications of her severe disabilities. 

Have you also suffered negligence related to cauda equina syndrome?

If you would like to find out more about any of the topics discussed above, or how we can help you in your particular circumstances, simply get in touch with our expert and friendly team.

Do so by calling us on 0800 054 6512 or by completing our online enquiry form, allowing us to get back to you.

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