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Cauda Equina Syndrome - Case Study

17 August 2017

Our client underwent surgery to reduce pressure on her spine (decompression procedure) to try and improve her ongoing back pain. This back pain was also limiting her mobility. During the surgery she unfortunately suffered a tear to the protective sheath around the spinal cord (dura) and this caused her sensory nerve roots to move out of place and one of them to be severed.

In this type of surgery, it is very important that the client’s condition is adequately monitored following the surgery, as one of the main risks is that the patient could develop cauda equina syndrome. This means that that the nerves at the bottom of your spinal cord, known as the “cauda equina” become damaged.

In this case the Defendant hospital did not adequately monitor and record our client’s condition, which included a loss of bowel function, impairment of bladder function and lack of sensation in this area, all symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. The Defendant did not dispute that there had been a breach of their duty of care in the failure to adequately monitor our client’s condition following the surgery.

However, the Defendant fought the claim alleging that the damage during the surgery was a recognised complication and that this had caused the cauda equina syndrome; even closer monitoring of our client’s condition post surgery would not have prevented her injuries.

We argued on behalf of our client that the damage during the surgery caused an accumulation of blood (haematoma) and build-up of fluid in the spinal canal, which compressed the nerves in her spine; had her condition been properly monitored, she would have undergone further surgery to prevent the development of cauda equina syndrome. She may have ended up with some loss of function and sensation, but not the extent to which she did suffer.

The case was approaching Trial but we were able to persuade the Defendant that they had enough risk in losing at Trial that they should settle the claim. Our client received a six figure sum by way of compensation for her injuries.

"Just a few words to express my gratitude for all the hard work that ended so well. Thank you for your kind, considerate and clear descriptions of how to proceed, for assigning all the consultants and the time and efforts taken to bring to a successful conclusion. I am forever grateful!"

By Victoria Jones

For further advice on the above topics, please call us on 01483 543210 or alternatively email enquiries@barlowrobbins.com