Failure to Diagnose Spinal Fracture

03 August 2018

Our client was climbing over a wooden rail fence when she slipped at the top and fell approximately 4 feet to the ground. She hit her head and back at the same time and was unable to move her body. Luckily, our client was found by her friends who called an ambulance.

Our client attended A&E and had X-rays taken of her lower spine. She was advised by doctors that she had not sustained any obvious bone injury or dislocation. Even though she remained in a great deal of pain and had difficulty breathing, she was discharged home with pain killers.

Over the next few months our client remained bedbound and saw little improvement in her symptoms. She returned to her GP a number of times complaining of ongoing pain and discomfort, until eventually her private chiropractor persuaded her GP to make a referral for an MRI scan. This took place about five months after the fall and revealed a compressed wedge spinal fracture at T12 in her lower back. The delay in diagnosing the fracture caused our client to suffer a kyphosis (curvature of her spine) and she had to undergo a surgical procedure known as a ‘Kyphoplasty’ to ease the spinal compression.

After the operation our client experienced some improvement to her symptoms, however she continued to suffer from stiffness, weakness and occasional pain exacerbated by physical activity. She felt more conscious of her ‘stooped’ appearance and had to give up her favourite hobby of horse riding.

A claim was brought on the basis that the hospital were negligent in failing to diagnose and treat our client’s spinal fracture during her attendance at A&E. Further, it alleged that our client’s GP was negligent in failing to refer her for an MRI scan at an earlier time. Liability was admitted by the hospital although denied by her GP.

Barlow Robbins were able to negotiate a very good settlement with the Solicitors for the hospital and our client was delighted with the outcome. Her damages included a sum for the unnecessary pain and suffering she endured as a result of the delay in diagnosis. She was also compensated for the funds she had spent on private medical treatment, as well as the gratuitous care that had been provided by friends and family. Finally, her damages included a provision for care and assistance that she will require in the future as a result of her ongoing disability.

"I would like to take this opportunity of thanking both yourself and your brilliant team for all your help in this matter. I have been treated so well throughout the case, and your results are admirable…please be assured that if I ever need further help you will be my first choice of advisers. It really has been a pleasure working with you all."

For further advice on the above topic, please call us on 01483 464222 or alternatively email

By Victoria Jones