Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Settlement For 33-Year-old Left With Bowel And Bladder Issues After Hospital Trust Admits Cauda Equina Surgery Should Have Been Performed Earlier
A former engineer is warning of the dangers of a rare spinal condition after a diagnosis delay left him with ongoing bladder and bowel problems.
James Booth was taken by ambulance to Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital complaining of back and leg pain and the inability to walk. He underwent an MRI scan the following afternoon, however, no issues were reported.
Engineer diagnosed with spinal condition
The next day, James, of Hayling Island in Hampshire, began suffering from bowel problems. By that evening, he also reported numbness in his legs. Following this, James’s condition was re-reviewed and it was suspected that the 33-year-old was suffering from cauda equina syndrome – a condition that occurs when the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord are compressed and damaged.
He was transferred to another hospital for emergency spinal decompression surgery. James has been left with ongoing bowel and bladder problems which affect his daily life. He was also forced to give up his job as a water treatment engineer because of his injuries.
Following his diagnosis, in June 2018, James instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust and whether his condition should have been diagnosed and treated earlier.
Medical negligence lawyers secure settlement after Trust admits 'negligent delay'
The Trust and his legal team have now agreed a settlement sum of £190,000 for James. It will help fund ongoing access to the therapies and rehabilitation he requires as part of his recovery.
The Trust admitted a ‘negligent delay’ in performing decompression surgery. It further admitted that had the surgery occurred sooner, James would have been left with ‘normal’ bladder and bowel function.
James has now joined his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in calling for lessons to be learned. He’s sharing his story to help raise awareness of cauda equina syndrome and the symptoms to look out for.
Expert Opinion“James has been through an incredibly difficult time following his diagnosis, firstly being left with ongoing problems and then having to give up a career he enjoyed, leaving him concerned about how he was going to support his young family.
“While rare, cauda equina syndrome is an incredibly dangerous condition which can have devastating effects. Early detection and treatment are key to making as full a recovery as possible.
“Sadly, there’s nothing that can be done to change what James has been through, but we’re pleased to have helped secure him a settlement which will help ensure he has access to the treatment he needs to help him move forward with his recovery.
“It’s also vital that lessons are learned to help prevent others from suffering similarly in the future.” Catherine Knight, Medical Negligence lawyer
Cauda equina syndrome: James's story
James was taken to hospital on 16 June, 2018, after finding he was unable to walk from his settee to his bathroom.
An MRI scan was undertaken but no further treatment was provided. It later transpired that this scan was incorrectly reported and should have been reported as showing signs of cauda equina syndrome.
By 3pm on 18 June, James was having bowel issues and numbness around his groin area. At around 5pm, he complained that his legs were numb.
He was transferred to another hospital around two hours later. He was operated on at around 8am on 19 June. Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust admitted surgery should have been performed by no later than 18 June. Had surgery occurred at this time, James would have avoided his now ongoing bowel and bladder issues.
More than five years on from his diagnosis, James still has issues with his bowel and bladder, and these are expected to affect him for the rest of his life. He lives with daily pain in his back and legs, which also have a psychological effect on him.
After losing his previous job, he set up his own building company to ensure he could continue to support his family. However, he’s restricted in the physical tasks he can undertake as a result of his injuries so is mainly office based.
James lives with his wife Jade and their children.
He said: “The pain I felt the day I was taken to hospital was unbearable, and not being able to walk was the most terrifying feeling. To this day, I still remember it so vividly.
“Once I was in the hand of the medics, I trusted everything was going to be fine and I’d be fit and well again in no time. Sadly and frustratingly, it didn’t go that way.
“When I was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome and told I needed emergency surgery, it was a huge shock as I hadn’t even heard of the condition before. To then find out it could have been diagnosed when I was scanned was incredibly upsetting, as I could have been treated sooner and made a much better recovery.
“Instead, I’ve been left in pain every day and the issues with my bowel and bladder have been severely debilitating.
“As if that wasn’t enough, I then lost my job as I could no longer fulfil the role as a result of my injuries. I was devastated.
“It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with everything, and some days I still struggle to accept what’s happened.
“Thankfully, however, I’ve had the best support from my wife Jade, family and friends. The settlement also means that I don’t have to worry about being able to access any future treatment I need.
“Now I just want to share my story so I can raise awareness of cauda equina syndrome. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.”
Signs to look out for
The red flag symptoms for cauda equina syndrome include loss of sensation between the legs, bladder and bowel disturbance, back pain and lower limb pain, (also known as sciatica), numbness and weakness.