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“Misdiagnosis and mismanagement of cauda equina syndrome lead to very devastating effects. Our Specialist Cauda Equina Solicitors can help you make
Cauda Equina Negligence Claims.”
A Complete Guide For Cauda Equina Syndrome
The Cauda equina (meaning – “horse tail” in Latin) refers to a group of vital nerves situated at the base area of the spine approximately just above the waist. This group of nerves supply sensation to the lower parts of the body including the legs, feet and pelvic organs. When there is a case of compression, trauma or damage to these nerves, cauda equina syndrome (CES) occurs.
This medical condition requires urgent surgery to decompress the nerves, relieving the pressure and prevent further damage and lifelong debilitating disabilities.
What Is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Cauda Equina Syndrome refers to the compression of the cauda equina due to damage to the discs in the cauda equina area of the spinal cord.
These discs play the role of shock absorbers and in the event that they become damaged as a result of tumours in the spine, surgical errors, spinal injury from physical trauma (which may be due to type of work or accident), inflammation, infection in that area of the spine, disc herniation, congenital conditions and spill out into the cauda equina, these canal nerves of the spine become compressed and severely compromised.
This medical condition though uncommon is very serious and in most cases will require an emergency surgical intervention between 24-48 hours to prevent further catastrophic and debilitating effects on the patient.
Cauda equina syndrome results in several life altering and permanent problems which include; chronic pains at the lower back, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, bowel weakness, difficulty in mobility, weakness of the lower limbs and in some cases paralysis of the lower limbs- many of which would be avoided if there was no delay in diagnosis or mismanagement of the condition. Several sufferers go on to lose their jobs and some may never be able to secure gainful employment.
While the condition is traumatic and devastating, it is even more painful when caused by medical negligence. Thus, its psychological impact goes deeper with the knowledge that you would have fared better if the condition was handled expertly.
If you or a loved one is a victim of negligent treatment causing you to develop cauda equina syndrome in the NHS or private hospital or your condition worsened due to medical negligence, you are well within your rights to make a Cauda Equina Negligence Claim.
What Is Incomplete Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Also called partial cauda equina syndrome refers to a condition where there is incomplete compression of the cauda equina. Initially, the patient’s condition will be incomplete but then gradually progresses if there is no urgent surgical intervention to decompress the affected nerves. Incomplete cauda equina syndrome is characterized by impaired rectal sensation, altered urinary sensation, impaired bladder function, painful urinary retention, poor urinary stream and urge incontinence.
Medical Negligence Cauda Equina Syndrome
Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence refers to substandard care, action or inaction of a medical professional in a management of the cauda equina syndrome that falls below acceptable medical standards which in turn causes harm to the patient or worsens the existing medical condition.
Our Medical negligence solicitors and specialist team of cauda equina syndrome lawyers who have a wealth of experience in dealing with cauda equina medical negligence claims and accredited with the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) can assist with the legal advice you need and help you make Cauda equina syndrome successful claims.
Our dedicated Cauda Equina Solicitors will do their very best to unravel whatever complexities that may surround your case for claim, assist you gather the evidence you need, provide you with expert legal counsel and be with you in every step of the legal process and ensure you get the right value of Cauda equina settlements. This compensation will enable you get the required medical care, therapy, mobility aids and other assistive devices crucial for your rehabilitation for a better quality of life.
Cauda Equina Symptoms and Red Flags
Cauda equina red flags are early symptoms of cauda equina syndrome that a person should look out for which may indicate that he or she may have cauda equina syndrome. These include:
- Impaired Bladder Function/ Urinary Incontinence And Rectal Function
These include inability or difficulty to urinate and poor urinary control, impaired urinary sensation, inability to control or stop.
- Saddle Anaesthesia
This is one of the cauda equina syndrome red flags characterized by a loss of feeling in the saddle area (in other words the saddle area goes numb). The saddle area comprises of the buttocks, the perineum (the area between the scrotum or vulva and the anus) and parts of the inner surfaces of the thigh.
When the nerves at the bases of the spine (cauda equina) become compressed, they tend to lose their function and as such the sufferer cannot feel sensation around their saddle area including an inability to feel the toilet paper when wiping.
- Sexual Dysfunction
A person with sexual dysfunction as a result of cauda equina syndrome will have loss of sensation during intercourse and for men, there is erectile dysfunction and inability to ejaculate.
- Lower Back Pain
Persistent and excruciating back pains are red flags that could portend cauda equina syndrome. Back pains around the thoracic spine are red flags that should also be watched out for Other Spinal red flags such as spinal stenosis which can put pressure on the nerves of the lower back can be precursors to cauda equina syndrome.
Cauda Equina Syndrome Causes
Cauda Equina Syndrome can be caused by various health conditions and must be attended to as a matter of urgency. Cauda Equina Syndrome is more likely to occur in adults than in children. Most of the cases of CES in children being congenital rather than acquired.
Common causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome include;
Clinical Negligence Necessitating Cauda Equina Syndrome Claims
There are several acts of medical negligence that would necessitate making cauda equina claims. Our cauda equina syndrome lawyers can assist you make a claim if you have suffered any of the following negligent treatment. Examples of medical negligence that can result in cauda equina settlements include;
- GP Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis of cauda equina syndrome may be in the form of missed diagnosis or wrong diagnosis of the condition. Being a medical emergency and most times requiring urgent surgery, time is of the essence in the management and treatment of cauda equina syndrome. Diagnosis as such should be accurate so that treatment (surgery in most cases) can be commenced immediately otherwise, the effects can be debilitating, traumatizing and permanent. We can assist you make that claim for cauda equina syndrome misdiagnosis.
- MRI or CT Scans Delays
Several persons who have made cauda equina claims saw their condition deteriorate because the required scans were not promptly carried out to actually confirm the condition and the extent of damage. Some persons saw the required scans delayed for days and some for weeks, their condition worsened and, in most persons, they suffered permanent nerve damage and life-long disabilities.
You may have a claim if you experienced delays in undergoing relevant scans and out medical negligence lawyers can assist you make that claim and get you a nerve damage compensation.
- Misunderstanding/Lack of proper Interpretation of Scan Results
Another negligent treatment suffered by sufferers and past clients is that when these results are returned, the medical officer failed to properly interpret the results and take prompt actions. Sometimes, while the GP might believe that there is a chance that there might be cauda equina syndrome, he may believe that there is no immediate harm to the patient and this can be costly.
- Delayed Surgery
Most times, sufferers of cauda equina syndrome would require a spinal surgery between 24 and 48hrs to prevent further or permanent damage. Delays in surgery may result from lack of referral from the GP to a specialist (neurologist), lack of communication between the doctor and the patient or failure of the hospital to arrange for an immediate surgery. Any delay in having the required surgery can be catastrophic. Our expert cauda equina solicitors can assist you make a claim for delayed surgery.
- Surgical Mistakes
Errors in the theatre can lead to permanent nerve damage and life-long debilitating disabilities. Cauda equina surgery is delicate and must be performed expertly. Errors in administration of anesthesia or some other surgical mistakes can be disastrous.
Poor performed surgery may even leave the patient worse than before, the nerves may be even further compressed causing further damage or needing further surgeries which can be more traumatizing for the patient. Our Cauda Equina Solicitors will assist you make a claim if you or your loved one has been a victim of surgical negligence leading to a deteriorating condition.
- Inadequate Monitoring of the Mother and Baby During Pregnancy
Medical professionals and Obstetricians should monitor the condition and development of mother and baby during pregnancy and carry out the needed medical intervention necessary to preserve the long-term health of mother and child.
Consequences of Negligent Treatment of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Several health conditions can arise as a result of medical negligence in handling a case of cauda equina syndrome. Some of these conditions are irreversible and have severe impact on the overall quality of life and wellbeing of the patient and as such all necessary steps must be taken to avert them. Long term effects of cauda equina syndrome include:
Case Studies Of Successful Cauda Equina Negligence Claims
Our team of cauda equina Solicitors have secured several cauda equina syndrome malpractice compensation amounts for clients over the years. Here are some examples of past payouts:
- In 2019, our cauda equina lawyers secured a £3 million settlement for a 40year old man who suffered a back injury while at work. He was sent home after his case was misdiagnosed as ordinary back pains and painkillers were prescribed. His condition deteriorated and he had to go back to the hospital.After 48hrs, he was correctly diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome. He had to undergo an emergency decompression surgery. The surgery was successful but he has to depend on mobility aids and lost his job as a result. The Defendants accepted liability for not diagnosing the condition on the first day he visited the hospital.
- We were able to secure £1.5 million in settlements for a 64year old factory worker who injured his back while lifting weights at work. His condition was misdiagnosed in two different hospitals. He was eventually diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome after his condition had worsened. He lost his job, suffers sexual dysfunction and needs mobility aids to move around.
- In 2010, our Cauda Equina Negligence solicitors were able to secure a lump sum of £3.5million in compensation for a client who suffered a misdiagnosis of his cauda equina syndrome and delay in MRI scans. This delay was disastrous as he is unable to make full recovery. He was a 30yr old man, in a full-time employment and with a young family. He was involved in an auto accident where he sustained back injuries.
The doctors negligently failed to correctly diagnose the severity of his condition and he was discharged. He returned to hospital after 2 days with increasing pain and deteriorating neurological symptoms. He was sent for scans but it was delayed for reasons not made known to our client. When he finally had the scans, his condition was finally diagnosed accurately. He underwent a successful emergency decompression surgery for a herniated disc. He is however left with permanent disabilities including lower back pain, urinary dysfunction, bowel dysfunction and impaired mobility. He also requires therapies to help manage his condition while also being unlike to secure a gainful employment.
- A herniated disc compensation of £850,000 was secured for a client in 2011 whose GP’s failure to accurately diagnose a large right disc prolapse meant he subsequently suffered from cauda equina syndrome. Even after the decompression surgery, he still suffers urinary and fecal incontinence, sexual dysfunction, chronic lower back pain and mobility problems.
Cauda Equina Compensation Payouts
If you or your loved one has suffered negligence leading to cauda equina syndrome or a deteriorated condition, you may want to know what range of compensation values you can expect. We have compiled for you a range of figures you can expect as outlined in the Judicial College Guidelines.
|Range of Compensation Value||Severity Of Injury||Remarks|
|£79,890-£141,150||Most severe injury||Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage. Severe lower back pains, incomplete paralysis, sexual, bladder and bowel dysfunction.|
|£65,030-£77,540||Special features of Back injury||Damage to nerve roots leading to loss of sensation, impaired mobility, impaired bladder, bowel and sexual function.|
|£34,000-£61,140||Disc lesions or Disc fracture or other soft tissue injuries||Chronic conditions including disabilities such as severe pain and discomfort, impaired mobility, impaired sexual function, arthritis, depression and unemployment|
|£24,340-£34,000||Less severe injury||This covers a wide variety of injuries, including the risk of osteoarthritis, chronic pain and discomfort, nerve root irritation and impaired mobility. Condition may require spinal fusion.|
|£10,000-£24,340||Ligament and Muscle disturbances||Lower back pains, injuries to soft tissues, worsening of previous existing back conditions. There may be a need for laminectomy. Actual figure will depend on extent of injury suffered, impact of injury on quality of life and future prognosis.|
|£2150-£10,970||Minor injuries||Full recovery is expected|
Because of the traumatic impacts on sufferers of cauda equina syndrome, the value for general damages is usually set high and would depend on the severity of injury and time required to make full recovery if possible (which is rarely the case with cauda equina syndrome).
Special damages not included in above compensation values include past, current and future financial losses and therefore vary from case to case.
Special damages include;
- Costs for Medications and prescriptions
- Mobility aids and equipment including wheelchairs, ramps, grip rails, scooters, crutches, etc.
- Costs for procuring orthoses such as special footwear or spinal corsets. This will also cover costs of future replacements.
- Costs for private treatment costs, rehabilitation, hiring professional caregivers or nursing experts.
- Travelling expenses for medical appointments
- Loss of income, earnings, pension (especially where you lose your job).
- Estimated future financial losses
- House adaptations or new property especially where you have to make adjustments in your home to suit your current medical condition or if you have had to change place of residence to suit your disabilities.
Compensation for special damages are essential to ensure you do not suffer financially as a result of your present condition. They are in place to help you pick up the pieces and enjoy the best possible quality of life as the disabilities can allow.
Making A Claim For Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence
In order to make successful cauda equina syndrome claims, a strong case of medical negligence must be established. The four D’s of Medical Negligence which are Duty, Deviation, Direct Causation and Damages must be fulfilled to establish the occurrence of medical negligence.
This means that we must prove that;
- The medical professional owed you a responsibility of care
- The medical professional failed in such responsibility
- That the failure in carrying out this responsibility directly caused you harm or injury.
- That the injury has caused you severe damages.
Relevant documents needed to prove cauda equina medical negligence claims include;
- Medical reports including MRI scans
- Detailed statements including timeline of events, dates of appointments, diagnosis made and other statements relevant to the case.
- Witness statements
- Evidence of past and current financial losses
- Reports from an independent medical expert called to make further examination to confirm presence of injury, severity and cause.
You do not need to get all these documents ready before speaking to us. Our specialist cauda equina solicitors will show dedication to your case, help you gather the needed evidence, give you the best legal advice and be with you every step of the way to ensure a stress-free process and get you that deserved compensation.
Procedure For Making Claims
- Speak with Us:
the first thing to do obviously is to speak to us. We will thoroughly examine your case, determine if you have a claim or not and then give you legal counsel on what next line of action to take.
Funding: once we are convinced that you suffered injury as a result of negligent treatment, we will set up funding for your case. There are several ways of funding medical negligence cases but the majority of our cauda equina claims cases are funded under the No Win No Fee Policy.
- Assessing Relevant Documents And Gathering Evidence:
As soon as we have secured funding for your case, we will request the hospital to grant us access to your medical records which will be thoroughly investigated. We will also gather other relevant documents, results and statements that can serve as evidence to support your claims. These include your statements, witness statements and scan results. We will also secure the services of independent medical experts who would perform an examination on you and make reports on the nature of injury and the cause.
- Establishing liability:
Next is to inform the Defendants party of your decision to make a claim. In the case of the NHS, the NHS Resolution (formally NHS Litigation Authority) represents the NHS, GPs and other medical professionals of the NHS in cases of medical negligence. They will make their own investigations and either accept or deny any wrongdoing. If they accept liability, we will make applications for interim payments.
- Securing Interim Payments:
Sometimes called disbursements, these are payments made by the Defendants representatives to the claimant’s while the case is still under investigation. These payments are necessary as they help provide funds needed to give you the care you need, go for therapy sessions, purchase mobility aids and other assistive devices. The value of interim payments secured will be subtracted from the final compensation award.
- Registering Your Claim With The Court:
This is necessary as it helps to guide both parties to meet up with appointments, provide needed evidence and discuss issues on specified dates.
We will continue to negotiate with the defendant’s representatives and try to settle the issue as soon as possible. If the defendant is not cooperating, being unwilling to settle the matter, the case will end up in court where a competent judge will preside over it and decide on the amount of compensation to be awarded.
Most medical negligence cases have been settled out of court. We therefore encourage you to speak to us today to assist you with your claims.
No Win No Fee Solicitors For Cauda Equina Negligence Claims
At Medical Negligence direct, we understand that several victims of negligent treatment may be skeptical about making claims and so we wouldn’t want you to put off making a claim for a deserved compensation because of fear of legal fees. Therefore, we fund cauda equina negligence claims under the No Win No Fee Policy. This means that you will only have to pay an agreed sum as success fees only when the case is won and if the claims are not successful, you don’t owe us a penny.
Time Frame For Settling Cauda Equina Claims
Claims are usually settled between 1 year to 3years. However, in cases where the defendant refuses to accept liability and the case goes into a trial, it may linger more than 3years.
Time Limit for Making Cauda Equina Claims
You would normally be allowed 3 years from the time of negligent treatment or from the time the negligence was first noticed.
However, in cases where the victim is a child, the 3year time frame will begin from the child’s 18th birthday. In cases where the victim is dead, then the three-year time frame begins from the date of death.
Cauda Equina Support Groups
Most sufferers of cauda equina syndrome feel depressed, alone and helpless. It is therefore important they connect with support groups to help make the pain easier and get over those feelings.
In General, Cauda Equina Support Groups perform these functions:
- Providing information, support and raise awareness about Cauda equina syndrome
- Supporting sufferers of Cauda equina syndrome by offering them patient education
- Improving the quality of life of individuals suffering from Cauda equina syndrome
- Delivering services to help build confidence into individuals living cauda equina syndrome and offering them a network of support.
Examples of CES Support groups online include-
- Cauda Equina Foundation, Inc. – https://www.caudaequinafoundation.org
- The Cauda Equina Syndrome Support Group – http://www.caudaequina.org
- The Cauda Equina Syndrome UK Charity https://caudaequinauk.org.uk
- I Have Cauda Equina https://www.ihavecaudaequina.com/
- FacingDisability.com – https://facingdisability.com/
Contact A Specialist Solicitor Today For A Free Claim Assessment
Frequently Asked Question about Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence
Is Cauda Equina Syndrome Classed As A Disability?
Though a rare medical condition, CES can cause permanent disability if misdiagnosed and mismanaged. It requires urgent surgery and so is considered a medical emergency.
Why Is Back Pain At Night A Red Flag?
Back pain at night is considered a red flag for cauda equina syndrome because it could be a sign that the nerves at the base of the spine are compressed. Slipped disc- the most common cause of cauda equina also manifests as lower back pain. These persistent back pains should be investigated to rule out the possibility of cauda equina syndrome.
How Rare Is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
CES is a rare medical condition with an incidence rate between 1 in 33,000 to 1 in 100,000. Cauda Equina Syndrome makes up about 2–6% of lumbar disc operations performed yearly.
What Happens If Cauda Equina Is Not Treated?
If cauda equina syndrome is not treated, it can lead to permanent paralysis, permanent anal and urinary incontinence. Even after a surgery, the patient may not regain total bladder/bowel control.
What Are The First Signs Of Cauda Equina?
The first signs or red flags of cauda equina syndrome include;
Lower back pain, and saddle anesthesia (numbness around the buttocks and genital area). Subsequently, the patient suffers bladder, fecal and sexual dysfunction.
Is Cauda Equina Syndrome Recovery Possible?
The recovery process is a long one and it is easy to predict if a patient will make a full recovery or not. The patient’s condition is monitored for about two years. After two years, it is unlikely that there will be further improvements. While some patients may regain normal nerve function, some suffer irreversible nerve damage.
What Is The Best Treatment For Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Cauda equina syndrome is best treated with decompression surgery of the nerves at the base of the spine by a lumbar laminectomy.
How Do You Rule Out Cauda Equina?
When a patient complains of symptoms such as loss of sensation around the buttocks, impaired urinary, sexual and rectal function, an MRI scan is recommended to confirm if it is a case of cauda equina or not.
Can Cauda Equina Go Away On Its Own?
Cauda Equina syndrome is a medical emergency needing an urgent decompression surgery. It will not go away on its own.
What Kind Of Doctor Treats Cauda Equina?
A Neurosurgeon and Spinal Orthopedist are medical consultants best suited to handle cases of cauda equina syndrome.