Cauda Equina Misdiagnosis Negligence Claims
Cauda equina syndrome is a relatively rare but severe disorder which affects the nerves in the lower back. It can come on relatively quickly and needs to be diagnosed swiftly to prevent serious health consequences.
Unfortunately, though, each year medical professionals fail to recognise the symptoms of cauda equina, leaving patients with long term and life-impacting health issues, such as paralysis and incontinence.
We understand the anguish caused when cauda equina is not recognised or treated in time, and if you believe that your treatment was negligent, then you may be entitled to claim compensation. At Sheldon Davidson Solicitors, we have been helping victims of medical misdiagnosis for many years, and we have a formidable reputation when it comes to helping clients to pursue negligence claims.
Speak to one of our medical negligence solicitors today to see how we can help you to seek the compensation that you need to rebuild your life.
WHY TRUST SHELDON DAVIDSON SOLICITORS WITH YOUR CLAIM?
At SDS Solicitors we have experts in claims relating to medical negligence and spinal injuries, with extensive experience of handling cauda equina syndrome claims.
We understand that the sensitive and personal nature of the issues caused by cauda equina syndrome can be quite difficult for clients to talk about, but our experienced team will listen with compassion and care, doing everything they can to make the process as comfortable as possible.
If you have concerns about the standard of care or treatment you or a relative received while seeking help with equina cauda syndrome, talk to us today and we will quickly establish whether we think that you have a claim to investigate.
CAN I MAKE A CLAIM?
If you feel that the care or treatment that you received fell below the level that you would reasonably expect while you were seeking help for your condition, then you may have grounds to make a claim. This could mean that the symptoms of cauda equina were missed, or that the treatment you received has been inadequate or incorrect due to negligence. There are many examples of misdiagnosis that may be grounds to make a claim for compensation:
- a medical professional failed to listen to, examine, or question the patient fully about their symptoms
- the stand out symptoms of cauda equina were not identified
- the patient was incorrectly diagnosed with something other than cauda equina, such as back pain
- a medical professional failed to arrange further testing or treatment when the patient had symptoms that could suggest cauda equina.
You may also be able to make a claim if you were diagnosed with cauda equina but your treatment led to further issues, such as negligent surgical practices or post-operative complications.
If you feel that you might have a claim, SDS can guide you through the process, giving you clear and compassionate advice at every stage.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
When we examine the information relating to your case, if we think that you have good grounds to make a claim, we will make an assessment and determine what to include.
We will look at your individual circumstances to determine what impact cauda equina has had on you. Many clients with cauda equina syndrome find that their independence and quality of life is impacted, which we take into account, alongside any loss of income or other out of pocket expenses.
Most claims are for general damages, and provide compensation for pain and injury caused, factoring in the extent of any disability or loss of function and the severity of each.
Other costs may include:
- further surgery
- any therapies, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy that may be needed
- loss of earnings if the ability to work has been affected
- the need for care where a patient is unable to carry out certain tasks for themselves
- any specialist aids or equipment needed to assist with independent living
We understand that whilst compensation cannot undo the damage done, it can provide solutions and care that you may now need on a daily basis.
Your solicitor will be able to give you a personalised estimation of what they think that your claim might be worth.
ARE THERE TIME LIMITS FOR MAKING A MISDIAGNOSIS CLAIM?
You generally need to make a claim within three years of any instance of misdiagnosis or negligence. However, you may not always realise at the time that what has happened to you was negligence, or should not have happened.
Where this is the case, the 3-year time limitation begins from the 'date of knowledge', or when you first became aware that you suffered from a failure or breach of care.
Either way, we recommend that you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.
WHAT IS CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME?
At the end of the spinal cord there are a collection of nerve roots called cauda equina (Latin for horse’s tail, due to the resemblance.) These nerves send and receive messages to and from the lower limbs and pelvic organs, like the bladder.
Severe lower back pain can be a sign of cauda equina syndrome, which occurs when the spinal nerve roots are compressed, causing pain, numbness, weakness and the inability to move. Failure to diagnose and treat the condition promptly can result in debilitating, long-term health consequences, and it should be treated as a surgical emergency.
If the pressure on the nerves is not relieved as a matter of urgency, then the disability can become permanent.
TYPES OF CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME
Cauda equina syndrome now tends to be broken down into two clinical categories:
- Incomplete Cauda Equina Syndrome – this describes issues that a patient will have with bladder function. There can be problems with urinary sensation, such as not being aware that they need to pass water or having to strain to urinate. This can be linked with saddle and genital sensory defects.
- Complete Cauda Equina Syndrome – where there is urinary retention and overflow incontinence.
DIAGNOSING AND TREATING CAUSA EQUINA SYNDROME
Cauda equina syndrome can affect anyone, but it most commonly affects adults, usually of working age. There can be a number of causes, including:
- a slipped disc (this is the most common cause)
- a traumatic injury to the back, such as a fall or being in a car crash
- narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis)
- a tumour or lesion on the spine
- an infection, inflammation or haemorrhage
- birth abnormalities
- postoperative complications
There are a number of symptoms that could suggest cauda equina syndrome, such as:
- severe pain in the lower back
- numbness, weakness or pain in the legs
- sudden issues with mobility
- loss of sensation, or altered sensation in the buttocks and lower limbs
- sexual dysfunction/loss of sensation
- issues with bladder or bowel function.
Where these symptoms are present, it is important that cauda equina syndrome is considered as a cause. There are a number of methods of diagnosing cauda equina, and it they need to be carried out swiftly once symptoms appear.
It is essential that GPs, orthopaedic surgeons, trainee doctors and any other health professionals that may come into contact with patients are aware of cauda aquina syndrome and fully understand the symptoms and the risks.
A healthcare professional should examine a patient’s medical history, focusing on general health, symptoms and activity, and should carry out a detailed physical examination of their legs, testing for strength, sensation and reflexes. Blood tests may be necessary, and the condition may need to be confirmed with a scan or an x-ray.
When a positive diagnosis has been made, it is crucial to begin treatment to relieve the pressure on the nerves as quickly as possible.
Treatment involves surgery to take the pressure off the nerves and should be performed without delay to prevent permanent damage.
This generally involves a microdiscectomy (to remove the part of the slipped disc pressing on the nerves) or a laminectomy, where part of the vertebra is removed to relieve nerve pressure. These surgeries involve a general anaesthetic and a stay in hospital of up to four days.
The outcome is dependant on the amount of damage caused prior to the surgery, and how quickly the surgery was performed, so any delay or misdiagnosis can be grounds for a compensation claim.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF A FAILURE TO TREAT CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME?
The failure to recognise the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and to treat it urgently can have a catastrophic effect on the patient, resulting in and lifelong disability.
In severe cases, patients can be left with bladder and bowel incontinence, which can be distressing and debilitating to live with. Leg weakness and sensory changes in the legs, bladder and sexual function can be an issue, and people may find that they need care and support to help them to manage areas of their lives that have been impacted as a result of cauda equina syndrome.
Many sufferers find that they need counselling to help them to cope with the trauma they have suffered, and often returning to work can be impossible.
The consequences of a failure of care can seriously impact a patient’s quality of life, both socially and personally, and these are factors that we consider when assessing your claim for compensation.
Established in Manchester in 1997, we are a leading specialist medical negligence law firm acting for claimants throughout England and Wales.
Our expert medical negligence solicitors regularly act for clients across Greater Manchester including Ashton, Bury, Bolton, Radcliffe, Prestwich, Middleton, Failsworth, Rochdale, Oldham, and Whitefield.
Our team of recognised Cauda Equina Claims Solicitors can support your needs wherever you live in Wales, England & Northern Ireland.
Call us for free now using the number at the top of the page or complete the online contact form and a member of our team will get back to you.