A&E failures devastate man’s future with permanent cauda equina syndrome future - £1 million in compensation

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A&E failures devastate man’s future with permanent cauda equina syndrome future - £1 million in compensation

‘Kelvin’ 43

Kelvin has missed out on progressing his career after hospital failures caused a permanent spinal condition called cauda equina syndrome. Kelvin was left with permanent disabilities and difficulties that make it impossible for him to take on more responsibility at work. His personal life and mental health have also been significantly affected. Kelvin’s case was taken on by Eddie Jones, a cauda equina syndrome specialist solicitor at JMW, and he was later awarded £1 million in compensation to help him to cope with the financial fall out from his condition.

What went wrong?

The red flag signs of cauda equina syndrome came on suddenly in Kelvin’s case and he abruptly lost the feeling in his legs, which a short time later evolved into severe pain and tingling in his legs and groin area. After contacting NHS 111 for advice, an ambulance was arranged, but when this did not arrive, Kelvin was taken to A&E by his partner.

After a couple of hours, and having been provided with pain relief, Kelvin wad assessed by an A&E doctor. However, the assessment was poor, and despite Kelvin having warning signs of cauda equina syndrome, the doctor did not arrange for him to be seen by a spinal specialist. The doctor sent Kelvin home but did not give him any follow-up advice about cauda equina syndrome and what to look out for.

Kelvin spent the next two days in bed to try to recover, however he only found that his pain increased. He was also experiencing changes to his urinary function; in that he could only pass small amounts and he felt that his bladder was not fully emptying. However as had not been given the correct follow-up advice from the hospital, he was not aware that this was a sign of progression of cauda equina syndrome and needed urgent medical attention.

Due to the increase in his pain levels, Kelvin went back to A&E the following day. The doctor who assessed him this time correctly diagnosed suspected cauda equina syndrome. Due to there being no MRI scanners available to confirm diagnosis, the doctor tried to transfer Kelvin to the nearest spinal injury specialist hospital. However, the transfer was significantly delayed, and it was much later that night before Kelvin arrived and immediately taken for an MRI scan. The scan revealed a herniated disc in lower part of Kelvin’s spinal cord was bulging into his cauda equina nerves at the base of his spine. This was impairing their function and causing the symptoms that Kelvin wad experiencing. He was taken for surgery at 9.30am the following morning to remove the disc, however there was very little improvement to his condition as permanent damage had been caused to the nerves.

As well as urinary function, the cauda equina nerves also control bowel and sexual function, and after his surgery, Kelvin found he was left with permanent problems with these. He relies on a bowel irrigation system to manage his bowels as the nerve damage means he has no control. He also requires aids to help him with his sexual function as this has been severely affected.

Kelvin has suffered psychologically due to these issues and the impact on his life and future and struggles with depression.

JMW’s investigation

JMW’s Eddie Jones instructed leading independent medical experts to analyse the care Kelvin received, as well as his medical records, to find out if earlier treatment would have prevented the permanent damage Kelvin now lives with.

The experts agreed that if action had been taken by the first hospital that Kelvin attended, when he was in the first stages of cauda equina syndrome, and he had had surgery that day, he would have made an almost complete recovery. Kelvin would not have been left with the urinary, bowel and sexual problems that he now has, or the severe pain that he struggles with every day.

Eddie built a strong case against the hospital trust, leading it to accept that it should compensate Kelvin. Eddie was able to negotiate a compensation settlement totalling £1 million to cover the lost earnings Kelvin suffered and the pain and suffering that he endured. This has gone some way to helping Kelvin to cope with the avoidable injuries he was left with.

Eddie Jones, a specialist cauda equina solicitor at JMW who handled Kelvin’s case, said:

“Kelvin’s life was completely devastated by the poor decisions of the A&E doctor, who should have been aware of how to treat such an urgent condition. I urge all doctors to know the red flags and how to treat them, to prevent more lives from being ruined.”

Eddie Jones, Partner


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.

For more information please contact the team on 0345 872 6666.

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