Case Study: Claim Won for Woman Disabled by Spinal Injury Blunders 

Collette, 39

Collette was left with poor mobility, severe on-going pain and problems with her bowel and bladder function after appalling delays to urgently needed surgery. Collette is now unable to work and her husband has had to give up his job to become her full-time carer. 

After Colette’s case was taken on by Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW Solicitors, the hospital trusts responsible for Collette’s care admitted they acted negligently. This has paved the way for Eddie to negotiate a compensation package that will enable Collette and her family to cope with the financial aspects of her condition. 

Back pain and hospital visit

One morning Collette’s back started to hurt severely with the pain radiating into her left leg. She went to see her GP who thought she was suffering from cauda equina syndrome and told her to go to hospital urgently.

Once at hospital Collette was examined by a doctor who found that as well as the pain her left thigh was also numb and she and pins and needles in same leg as well as her hips and genital area. Collette had also found that she could not feel anything when she passed urine.

Delay in MRI

The doctor also thought she was suffering from cauda equina syndrome it was decided that she would have an MRI scan later that evening to confirm the diagnosis and she would then be referred to a specialist for surgery. This was a delay of several hours when cauda equina syndrome represents a surgical emergency.

However there was a problem arranging the scan and it was not performed that night, nor first thing the following morning. Eventually Collette was transferred to a different hospital for the MRI which revealed that part of her spine was being compressed and this was causing her alarming symptoms. Although the location of the pressure was such that it was not classed as cauda equina syndrome it still represented a surgical emergency.

Surgery delayed

Collette was taken back to the first hospital where there has been problems arranging the scan. No one really seemed to grasp how serious her situation was and she was even allowed to move around the hospital grounds in a wheelchair to make a telephone call.

However the hospital did contact the specialist neurosurgical unit at the larger hospital where the surgery was to be performed to arrange Collette’s transfer and operation. Despite this surgery was not arranged and at about 11.30pm that day a doctor in the specialist neurosurgical unit decided that Collette did not need emergency surgery that night and that she could be transferred first thing in the morning.

At 9am the next morning a neurologist examined Collette and found her condition had deteriorated. Both her legs were now numb and she was unable to use her left foot. The neurologist tried to arrange for her immediate transfer to the specialist neurosurgical unit for surgery however was now told that they could not take her and that other units in the region should be approached for help. A call was made to another unit but it was full.

More calls to the specialist neurosurgical unit followed however by midday they were saying that Collette was not a priority patient and that her transfer was not necessary that night and she should be treated with bed rest. By 3.30pm Collette’s condition had deteriorated further and she had lost more feeling in her lower body.

Long term consequences

By the next morning Collette has still not been transferred with her symptoms becoming worse and worse. Eventually later that day she was taken to the specialist unit for surgery. The doctor who saw her arranged a further MRI scan and surgery was carried out that night. However the doctor advised that she should have had surgery three days earlier. As a result of these appalling delays Collette was left seriously disabled.

Successful claim

Colette’s case was taken on by Eddie Jones, who fought for justice on her behalf and secured admissions of negligence from both the hospital where she was first treated and the specialist neurosurgical unit for the appalling delays she faced and the devastating and life-changing consequences for Collette. Eddie is now negotiating a compensation settlement that will enable Collette and her family to cope with her disabilities.

Have you also suffered negligent medical treatment related to cauda equina syndrome?

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