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Cauda Equina Syndrome Compensation Claims
The consequences of poor or delayed care for people suffering from cauda equina syndrome can be extremely serious and challenging. It is, therefore, imperative that patients are able to bring a successful claim with the help of a specialist solicitor who truly understands the condition and the issues surrounding it.
JMW has built an unrivalled reputation as specialists in cauda equina syndrome compensation claims. Our knowledgeable and professional approach has made all the difference to our clients; we have not only achieved compensation settlements that have allowed them to rebuild their lives, we have also acted as a great source of support during an extremely challenging time.
If you or a loved one has been affected by cauda equina syndrome that was caused by medical negligence, our team of specialist solicitors is here to help. Contact us today on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.
JMW average relates to claims settled from April 2015 to March 2018. National average obtained from the NHS Litigation Authority claims management database in August 2018 following a search for claims which have the keywords ‘cauda equina’ in the incident description. The figure relates to claims settled against NHS hospitals from April 2015 to March 2018 and does not include claims against GPs.
Cauda equina is a serious spinal injury that can devastate lives due to the distressing long-term problems it causes, including incontinence, lingering pain, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. When it first strikes, urgent surgery is required to stop its effects from becoming permanent.
Lower back pain is exceedingly common and, in the vast majority of cases, it clears up on its own without treatment. However, occasionally it can be more serious. At the upper lumbar region of the spinal canal, the nerves of the pelvis and legs branch out from the end of the spinal cord in a 'horse's tail' effect. Anything that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal at this level resulting in a compression of this particular bundle of nerves is classed as cauda equina syndrome (CES).
These nerves are particularly susceptible to injury; particularly those supplying the bladder and bowel, and the most usual cause of CES is a prolapsed (slipped) disc. Other causes include:
- Injury (not necessarily a major injury)
- Infection (particularly abscess)
- Severe bony disease of the spine
- Spinal anaesthesia
- Congenital abnormality of the spine
- Damage during surgery
Because of the nature of the condition, we have found that sufferers of cauda equina have experienced certain issues that sufferers of other injuries or ailments have not endured. Among these are:
Lack of awareness in hospitals
Medical staff in hospitals may not be fully aware of the signs of cauda equina syndrome, nor the need for fast action and the devastating impact it can have on lives. Systematic failures at smaller hospitals may also mean they are not fully equipped to deal with serious spinal injuries requiring urgent investigation and referral to specialist units.
Delayed MRI or CT scans
Sufferers can face delays of days, even weeks, before they undergo a scan. While waiting, their condition can deteriorate so significantly that it may be too late to prevent permanent nerve damage and lives can be turned upside down as a result.
Misdiagnosis by GPs
While most GPs are aware of cauda equina and the need to immediately refer sufferers to hospitals for scans and surgery, some may let patients down by misdiagnosing the condition and failing to recommend appropriate action.
A poor standard of surgery can mean that a patient's condition is worsened or left untreated. This can lead to permanent damage being caused and the need for further operations, which can be traumatic for patients and carries the risk of permanent damage.
Perhaps one of the lesser discussed impacts of cauda equina is the strain it can put on relationships. Because the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine control sexual function, if they become permanently damaged, this function can be lost forever. This can cause enormous emotional damage for sufferers, and when combined with the fact that partners often become carers, many relationships crumble under the pressure.
What Are the Symptoms of Cauda Equina?
The symptoms of CES include:
- Lower back pain
- Acute or chronic radiating pain
- Numbness in the perineal area
Red flag symptoms that should be urgently investigated include:
- Altered Bladder and bowel function
- Sexual dysfunction
- Numbness in the saddle area and legs
CES can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary in intensity and sometimes evolve slowly over time. However, surgical intervention is often necessary to avoid permanent nerve damage.
For What Can Compensation Be Awarded?
Compensation for mishandled cases of CES is often considerable, and can result from:
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to treat
- Inadequate or negligent surgery
- Failure to recognise post-op complications
An Insight into Cauda Equina Syndrome
For more information about CES, such as what it is, the symptoms to look out for, who it affects and where to go for help, check out our infographic by here or click the image below.
Lack of Awareness
Despite the seriousness of the condition and the impact it has on sufferers' lives, cauda equina has much less exposure than other serious conditions and awareness of its causes, symptoms and effects may not be as high as it should be. Find out more about the impact this lack of awareness can have here.
We have successfully settled many claims and are currently helping sufferers across the country to challenge the poor care that has resulted in their long-term injuries.
Headed up by leading cauda equina solicitor Eddie Jones, our specialists have strong links with the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), and two of our partners are on their panel of approved solicitors. In addition, we have lawyers who are members of the Law Society's Panel of Clinical Negligence Specialists. We work nationwide and visit our clients at home whenever needed.
Independent legal guide Chambers and Partners has awarded us a top tier ranking in both the 2014 and 2015 editions. Read more of what they have to say about us here.
We have helped a range of sufferers to claim cauda equina compensation where medical negligence has made the effects more severe, often gaining settlements at a higher level than the national average.