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Man, 39, left permanently disabled after doctors sent him home without vital scan
A man whose life was devastated after he was sent home from hospital without a vital scan meaning a severe spinal condition went undiagnosed has said lessons must be learned by doctors to prevent other lives being ruined.
Steven Chiverton, 39, from Newport, Isle of Wight is unable to work, help care for his daughter Bella, five, and is severely depressed after his spine was permanently damaged by the blunder. Steven required emergency surgery due to a prolapsed disc that was destroying the nerves in the base of his spine and causing the condition cauda equina syndrome.
However the operation was delayed by several days after doctors at St Mary’s Hospital decided his case was not urgent after he attended A&E in agony and that he did not require an MRI scan. Steven was wrongly discharged but was brought back to hospital by ambulance three days later as he had lost feeling in his legs and was numb from the waist down.
Steven, who is married to Abi, 35, underwent an urgent MRI and was transferred by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital for surgery but by now permanent damage had been caused. Steven has been left with permanent severe back pain, bowel and bladder dysfunction, numbness in his groin, saddle area, thighs and calves, foot drop on both sides and muscle spasms. He has to use crutches to move around his house and a wheelchair for longer distances outside and his family life has been turned upside down.
Steven has been helped to challenge the appalling errors that were made by the hospital by Eddie Jones, a specialist cauda equina syndrome solicitor and head of medical negligence at law firm JMW. After two years of fighting Steven’s case, in April 2016 the hospital trust admitted that if he had been given an MRI scan on 11 May 2014 his condition would have been diagnosed and the permanent damage to his spine would have been prevented. Mr Jones is now negotiating a compensation settlement with the hospital trust to cover the cost of coping with Steven’s injuries, which will include a specially adapted house and mobility aids.
Mr Jones commented: “This is a very tragic case as Steven is only 39 and his life has been completely devastated. He has found himself permanently disabled, depressed and in need of help with basic household tasks – all of which was avoidable if action had been taken by doctors just three days earlier.
“Steven had by seen by his GP and the hospital several times with warning signs of cauda equina syndrome before attending A&E in agony. Two doctors discussed his symptoms yet did not recognise the seriousness of the situation. They decided he should be sent home without an MRI scan, which would have enabled them to diagnose cauda equina syndrome and perform urgent surgery. It was a catastrophic error and Steven and his family will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.”
Steven commented: “This wasn’t just normal back pain; I knew something was badly wrong and was in tears when the A&E doctors said I was being sent home. I had been trying to get help for days and I now know that if those doctors had treated me appropriately that day that all this misery we are now facing could have been avoided and I would now be leading a normal life. That’s extremely difficult to come to terms and as Abi also has fibromyalgia, a long term condition; she is now my carer when it used to be me looking after her.
“All I can do now is to try to make sure lessons are learned. Too many people are having their lives ruined unnecessarily by this awful condition. Doctors need to be alert to cauda equina syndrome and that scans and operations need to be done urgently when the red flags appear otherwise the chance of that patient recovering diminishes with every hour that passes.”
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Note to Editors
JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones. https://www.jmw.co.uk/services-for-you/clinical-negligence/