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Cauda Equina Syndrome Case Study

30 June 2015

Mr N made a claim against his local hospital for failure to diagnose development of Cauda Equina Syndrome.

He initially approached a firm of solicitors who agreed to act for him. The allegations of negligence in this case were complex. Those first solicitors obtained a report from a QC who advised that the case did not have prospects of success.

Mr N was not prepared to give up, though, and issued proceedings at Court himself before approaching Barlow Robbins to ask for assistance.

Mr N was only aged 36 when he attended the hospital with back problems. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department at the hospital several times but staff at the hospital appeared to dismiss his complaints. They didn’t ask him the right questions or listen to what he was telling them. As a result they failed to identify or recognise the “red flag” symptoms which Mr N had, which should have told them that he was suffering from acute central disc protrusion and developing Cauda Equina Syndrome.

It was Mr N’s case that the hospital thereby missed the crucial window of opportunity in which to provide corrective surgery which in turn, could have prevented long term disability.

By the time Mr N finally got a consultation (which led to him undergoing a spinal decompression operation), the damage was irreversible.

As a result of the development of Cauda Equina Syndrome, Mr N was left with girdle paralysis which caused him to suffer with permanent double incontinence, sexual and mobility problems.

He found this extremely difficult to adjust to and also suffered from serious long term psychological consequences.

This was a highly complex case where numerous medical experts had to be instructed to provide reports on both breach of duty and causation so that the link between the hospital’s negligence and the development of Cauda Equina Syndrome (and its severe consequences) could be established.

Mr N found even talking about his case very emotional. The effect of Cauda Equina Syndrome was devastating to his lifestyle and also had a very serious impact on his family relationships and friendships. He was very angry. The case had to be dealt with very delicately as a result. He needed a lot of practical and emotional support.

The case was eventually listed for a 5 day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice. However, following a round table meeting between the parties, the matter settled within days of the trial commencing.

The claim settled in excess of £1.4m, with the hospital accepting that their standard of care had fallen below the standard which was expected from them.

Within the settlement our legal team secured compensation not only for the injury suffered but also loss of earnings for Mr N’s lifetime, the cost of equipment, and also funds to pay for Mr N’s purchase and adaptation of a suitable new home. This was life changing for Mr N.