Cauda Equina Syndrome claims

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Chambers UK
Clinical Negligence

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The Cauda Equina are a sensitive group of nerves located at the base of the spinal cord involved in lower limb sensation and pelvic function. Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare but very serious neurological condition usually arising from a slipped disc in the spine compressing those nerves. While it should be treated as an emergency, many patients receive inadequate care resulting in delayed surgery and permanent neurological damage, which can culminate in the decision to pursue a compensation claim.

If you believe there has been a delay in diagnosis or treatment, our specialist Cauda Equina solicitors can advise you. We have considerable experience in bringing clinical negligence claims in this area of medicine. If the nerve compression is not identified quickly and resolved (through surgery to remove the pressure), permanent damage can be caused leading to altered lower body sensation, problems with mobility, and bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. The impact of these disabilities is often life-changing.

Because of the speed with which Cauda Equina Syndrome can progress and the short window of opportunity to treat it effectively (generally regarded as up to 48 hours from onset), swift action is critical. However, since it is relatively rare and often preceded by ‘routine’ back pain, it is often missed – with devastating consequences. Symptoms which should prompt urgent action include loss of sensation in the lower limbs, numbness in the buttocks / genitial area and difficulties passing urine or with bowel movements.

Most of the Cauda Equina compensation claims we deal with are a direct result of GPs or A&E doctors failing to recognise these classic red flag signs when they assess patients. Steps to ensure they are referred immediately to the relevant orthopaedic or neurosurgical teams or receive an urgent MRI scan to confirm diagnosis may not be taken. On other occasions those who are identified as being at risk of Cauda Equina Syndrome are discharged from hospital without proper guidance and so are unaware that they should seek advice when signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome develop.

While no sum of money can compensate for the difficulties patients may face, our Cauda Equina claims team can help to improve their quality of life by securing damages to cover loss of earnings, current and future care, equipment and accommodation needs. Our solicitors’ initial consultation is offered free of charge and without obligation. Funding options available to clients include no win no fee (conditional fee) agreements.

We offer expert advice on:

  • claims against A&E / orthopaedic departments for failing to identify the clinical signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome in patients
  • claims against hospitals for failing to transfer patients with Cauda Equina Syndrome to appropriate specialist care
  • delays in clinical assessments and / or arranging MRI scans
  • cases where GPs / A&E departments fail to ask appropriate questions about symptoms
  • cases where out of hours services fail to elicit the presence of red flag signs
  • claims against GPs for making routine, not urgent, referrals for patients with Cauda Equina Syndrome
  • delays in arranging transfer / surgery by orthopaedic / neurosurgical teams
  • claims against GPs / A&E departments for failing to provide red flag advice to patients with back pain
  • claims against hospitals for failing to diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome and discharging patients

Recent work highlights

£750,000 settlement for surgery delay

Achieving a settlement of £750,000 for a young man with suspected Cauda Equina Syndrome who suffered significant delays in diagnosis and treatment which left him with symptoms affecting his urinary, bowel and sexual function for life.


Cauda Equina signs missed

Settling a case for £750,000 for our client whose symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome were not properly investigated in A&E. She subsequently suffered significant permanent nerve damage affecting her urinary and bowel function and limiting her mobility.


Permanent neurological injury after negligent GP care

Obtaining compensation for a man in his 30s who was left with long-term damage from developing Cauda Equina Syndrome. Despite noting red flag symptoms, his GP failed to refer him to hospital for a same-day MRI scan which would have prompted emergency decompression surgery.

See more detailed case studies

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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP