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Delayed Diagnosis Of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Ian went to see his GP after having sciatic pain in his right leg, and was prescribed painkillers. His symptoms worsened the next day however, so he called his GP’s out-of-hours service. Despite this, no medical assessment was carried out.

His symptoms had not improved a couple of days later, and Ian was seen by an orthopaedic doctor following another call to his GP. Ian complained to the doctor that his bowel and bladder felt strange, and his symptoms had progressively worsened. Despite Ian’s symptoms, the doctor failed to suspect cauda equina syndrome, through not performing an adequate neurological examination.

Following this, Ian went to see an osteopath and was referred immediately to his GP, and also advised that he needed an MRI scan. He saw his GP later that day, and was subsequently referred to the orthopaedic team at the hospital. Despite noting his symptoms, Ian was discharged from the hospital as he had an orthopaedic clinic appointment a few days later.

Ian was seen the following day by a chiropractor who recommended that the symptoms were beyond chiropractic care, symptoms which now included numbness and bowel and bladder dysfunction. The chiropractor recommended that Ian attend the A & E department of the hospital immediately; however a diagnosis was still not made.

Ian collapsed at home in the early hours of the next day and was taken to hospital. Cauda equina syndrome was now suspected and an MRI scan confirmed disc prolapse causing stenosis of the spinal canal with neural compression.

Ian underwent immediate surgery but was left with a significant residual neurological deficit. Ian has impaired bowel and bladder function, problems which are now permanent.

Sarah Rowland from Irwin Mitchell’s medical negligence team was instructed to investigate a claim against the GP’s and the hospital. The defendants admitted liability in that Ian’s condition should have been diagnosed at an earlier stage, and as a result of this a five figure settlement sum was achieved on behalf of Ian, in compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the negligence of the GP and hospital.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of GP negligence, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.

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