Cauda equina case settled for a sizeable sum
4 minute read
We successfully concluded a case on behalf of our client who suffered extremely severe injuries due to a failure on the part of the Defendant Hospital to provide timely surgical intervention for lumbar disc disease in her spine. The failings of the hospital were then compounded by a subsequent failure to recognise signs and symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome when the Plaintiff attended at the hospital Emergency Department but was inappropriately discharged home without adequate treatment.
Eight month delay
The Plaintiff had initially been referred by her GP for surgical opinion in relation to the management of lumbar disc disease. There was an almost eight-month delay between this referral and the Plaintiff being reviewed by a consultant surgeon. On review, the surgeon indicated that the Plaintiff needed to undergo discectomy surgery which was to be arranged to take place within a period of four to six weeks. However, a further five months passed without the surgery taking place. The Plaintiff then suffered a severe deterioration in her condition with a significant increase in pain together with urinary abnormalities.
Following a review in the hospital emergency department the Plaintiff was discharged on pain medication. Four days later the Plaintiff was brought back to hospital by ambulance as her condition had deteriorated even further. At this stage she was identified as having suffered Cauda Equina Syndrome and underwent emergency laminectomy and discectomy surgery. Unfortunately, by this stage permanent damage had been done and the Plaintiff suffered significant neurological injuries which impacted her in terms of mobility, continence, ability to carry out activities of daily living, ability to work and in terms of her overall wellbeing.
The Plaintiff’s claim was based around the fact that the initial delay from referral by her GP to the carrying out of discectomy surgery was excessive and that the discectomy surgery should have been carried out before she ever developed symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome. In addition, the Plaintiff claimed that the assessment which she received on her initial attendance at the hospital emergency department was negligent and that had a proper examination been carried out, she would have been diagnosed with early stage Cauda Equina Syndrome at that time.
The Plaintiff argued that had a diagnosis been made at any point up to (or during) her initial attendance at the Emergency Department, surgery would have been carried out in sufficient time to release the pressure on the nerve roots of her lumbar spine before any permanent damage had been caused.
Liability was initially denied
The case was fully defended on the basis that there was no indication to carrying out emergency surgery at any time prior to the Plaintiff’s second attendance at the Emergency Department, which is when the surgery did in fact take place. It was also argued by the Defendant that the Plaintiff had been adequately and thoroughly examined in the Emergency Department on her first attendance and that she had no signs or symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome at that stage.
This matter was listed for trial and a mediation took place shortly before the trial date. After lengthy negotiations during the course of the mediation it was possible to resolve the case on the basis of substantial damages being paid by the Defendant in respect of the injuries which had been suffered by the Plaintiff. The Defendant also agreed to pay the Plaintiff’s full legal costs.
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In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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