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Case won for man who suffered significant spinal injuries due to medical failures: £1.6 million awarded
Lee was left with significant permanent disabilities following a failure by doctors to realise that he had cauda equina syndrome (CES) and needed urgent treatment.
Lee had a pre-existing back injury, which put him at risk of developing further complications, including CES. He also had learning difficulties and some care needs, which made his claim for clinical negligence particularly complex.
With the help of his brother, Lee instructed Eddie Jones, partner and head of JMW’s specialist clinical negligence team. Lee has been left with lifelong disabilities and will require care for the rest of his life. Eddie’s substantial experience in representing patients with CES meant that he was able to achieve a settlement for £1.6 million for Lee to provide the lifetime of care he requires.
Lee had very sadly been involved in a car accident as a young child and had sustained a brain injury. He had a good quality of life and good health, although he did sometimes experience lower back pain. Scans had shown one of his discs was pressing on his spinal cord, which put him at risk of developing CES in the future. However, the back pain would come and go and was not considered serious enough to warrant surgery.
A sudden change
When Lee was 48, things changed. His back pain worsened quite significantly and he then suddenly collapsed. He lost control of his bladder whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Lee was taken to hospital and examined. Unfortunately, the doctors failed to ask Lee a number of important questions or carry out a number of examinations, to establish whether he might have CES, such as whether he had had a change in his bowel or bladder function or whether he had any numbness around his genitals and anus. As a result, CES was not considered and Lee was not treated with urgency.
After being admitted to A&E, Lee was not referred for an urgent MRI scan or referred to the correct team for assessment. Instead, he was admitted to a ward and seen by a doctor the following morning. It was only then that Lee’s very significant and concerning symptoms were properly noted and an urgent MRI scan was arranged on the suspicion of CES.
Finally, the MRI scan confirmed that a disc in Lee’s back was completely compressing the spinal cord and he needed to have emergency surgery.
Despite the surgeon’s best efforts, Lee had been left without treatment for such a long time that he was left with permanent difficulties. He has bowel and bladder incontinence and has a permanent catheter. He has been left in permanent pain which affects his mobility. His bottom and genitals are completely numb and he has no sexual function.
Lee was left in a much worse situation than he would have been in had he received appropriate treatment.
Lee and his brother felt unhappy with the treatment he had received and decided to contact JMW for advice. Eddie Jones specialises in cases involving CES and on the basis of his vast experience in this area, he felt that Lee’s case should be investigated.
Eddie carried out a very comprehensive investigation into Lee’s case. He instructed a team of medical experts to provide evidence and it was agreed that Lee’s care had been substandard and he had been left in a much worse condition than he should have been. Eddie then gathered reports from various experts upon Lee’s ongoing care and other needs. It was necessary to differentiate between the care Lee would have always needed and the care he needed as a result of these events.
Eddie’s investigations took some years because, although the hospital trust initially accepted that the treatment had been poor, they did not accept that Lee’s outcome had been worsened by the delays. Unperturbed, Eddie continued to fight Lee’s case right up until a month before the matter was due to go to trial at the High Court. Fortunately, a settlement meeting was held with the hospital representatives and settlement was agreed at £1.6 million.
Lee and his brother were very pleased with the outcome. It has provided them with an acknowledgement from the hospital that Lee’s care fell below a reasonable standard and also financial security which will enable Lee to have access to care and equipment he needs to live comfortably and as independently as possible.
Lee’s specialist cauda equina syndrome solicitor Eddie Jones commented:
Lee’s was a complex case but the treatment he received was appalling so it was vital that we fought it all the way to get him the help he needed. Lee’s compensation has given him and his family peace of mind that he will be supported for the rest of his life, which is what he deserves after such an ordeal.
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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 lawyer, Eddie Jones.