If you have developed Cauda Equina Syndrome as a result of substandard care by a medical professional, you may be entitled to a medical negligence compensation claim. The purpose of this article is to help anyone who has been affected by Cauda Equina and is considering a claim for compensation.
What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a condition in which the spinal canal nerves become compressed, typically through injury or trauma. The controls the lower body area such as the bladder, bowel, lower limbs and sexual organs. So, its symptoms may include severe back pain, loss of mobility and bowel/bladder function problems. Even more significant is that Cauda Equina is a surgical emergency – and if surgical treatment is not done quickly enough, the patient may suffer irreversible damage.
Although Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare condition, medical professionals should still be able to identify its symptoms and act within the first 24 to 48 hours to prevent permanent damage. Whether you are being treated by a private practitioner or a medical staff at the NHS, you could be entitled to a claim if your doctor failed to correctly diagnose and promptly treat your injuries, causing you permanent damage.
What Cauda Equina Symptoms Should My Doctor Identify?
There are symptoms that should get the attention of your doctor, or other medical professionals. Cauda Equina Syndrome often happens after a patient has suffered prolonged back pain. A GP or doctor should not assume that the patient’s new symptoms are only a part of the already existing condition.
If a patient complains of loss of sensitivity around the anus, genitals, or bowel/bladder problems, a doctor should be concerned. Loss of sensitivity around the lower body area (accompanied by striking pains) and reduced movement of the ankle are warning signs a doctor must not dismiss.
Do I Have a Claim for Cauda Equina Syndrome Negligence?
If your Cauda Equina Syndrome occurred as a result of an avoidable error such as a delay in diagnosis, you can make a claim for Cauda Equina Syndrome negligence. This claim will be made against the medical professional that has let you down.
For instance, upon hearing a patient’s complaints, a GP, osteopath, chiropractor or the accident and emergency department may still turn the patient away. In such cases, the medical professionals misses crucial opportunities to conduct MRI imaging, diagnose the medical condition and act promptly. MRI imaging may have prompted earlier surgery and prevented the permanent injury.
In some cases, doctors fail to refer patients for tests as quickly as they should because they do not recognize the warning signs as symptoms of CES. At other times, permanent disabilities from CES may be caused by surgical error, possibly during spinal surgery. In any case, you must be able to demonstrate that the medical care you received fell below the expected standards, and that your doctor is liable for the delayed diagnosis of Cauda Equina and its late treatment.
It is also important that you are aware of the time limits for making clinical negligence claims. Generally, a 3-year time limit applies – from the date of the incident or the date you became aware that your injury was due to negligence. However, there are exceptions for children under the age of 18 who have suffered Cauda Equina negligence. In this case, the 3-year time limit begins when they turn 18.
How are Cauda Equina Compensations Calculated?
It can be difficult to determine the exact amount a claimant may receive for the injury they suffered. However, compensation awards are usually calculated based on two types of settlements: general damages and special damages.
This refers to damages awarded to compensate a claimant for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity they have endured as a result of medical negligence. Injuries incurred due to Cauda Equina Syndrome are often serious and can have a devastating impact on the day to day life of the victim. It can also have a significant psychological impact on you.
Cauda Equina can literally turn the life of its victim upside down. It can affect their ability to work, engage in hobbies and sports, and take care of their family. General damages will also reflect how long you have suffered the condition or will suffer (if the injury is permanent).
Compensation award for general damages:
- £2,150 to £10,970: This range compensates for less severe injuries. For instance, if a patient fully recovers within two to five years without surgery, the compensation will be less than typical.
- £10,000 to £24,000: This compensates for injury affecting the muscles and ligaments, and causing backache. The patient will suffer soft tissue injuries, worsening the pre-existing back pain; the patient may also suffer lapses at regular intervals and may need a back surgery known as laminectomy. The compensation award will depend on the severity of the injury. Other important considerations will include the amount of treatment required and whether you can perform routine daily tasks.
- £24,000 to £34,000: This compensates for less severe disabilities, such as constant pain and the risk of osteoarthritis. The patient may also endure reduced mobility and irritation of the nerve root. Spinal fusion surgery may be required.
- £34,000 to £61,000: This range compensates for disc fractures or fracture of the vertebral bodies. In this case, the patient will likely suffer long term complications, where the disabilities remain despite treatment, even surgical procedure. Other disabilities here include severe pain and discomfort, sexual difficulties and impaired movement.
- £65,000 to £77,000: This range compensates for back injury, accompanied by loss of sensation and damage of the nerve roots. In this case, the patient has likely suffered loss of mobility, as well as problems with the bowel and bladder, and sexual difficulties.
- £79,000 to £141,000: This range compensates for the most severe injury. In this case, the injured patient has likely suffered damage to the nerve roots and spinal cord, resulting in severe pain and incomplete paralysis. The functioning of the bowel, bladder and sexual organs will also be affected.
These damages are designed to compensate for any financial losses a medical negligence victim has incurred. The loss of earnings will likely form a significant part of the award, and you may also be entitled to a future loss of earnings claim since the condition will impact your ability to work.
Special damages typically include:
- Loss of earnings: If you have had to quit work or reduce your working hours OR a partner has given up work to care for you, you can make a claim for compensation.
- Care claim: Your family and friends will likely support you through this difficult process. However, you may still require ongoing care by a professional. This will allow your family and friends to focus on being what they really are – family and friends, not carers. You can make claims for care costs.
- Travel expenses: You can make claims for the cost of trips you undertake as a result of the injury you suffered. This could include shuttling to and from medical appointments.
Aids and equipment: This compensates for any assistance that can make your daily life easier. This may include wheelchairs, ramps and modified vehicles.
If you have suffered from Cauda Equina Syndrome, funding a medical negligence compensation claim is the last thing you want to worry about. At Medical Negligence Direct, our panel of medical negligence experts handle claims on a No Win No Fee basis. Under this arrangement, our medical negligence solicitors will work on your claim at no cost to you.
This means that we assume all the risks involved in making the claim; so, you will not have to worry about making any payments if the claim is unsuccessful. If the claim is successful, we will only receive a fee – which would have been agreed upon at the outset – from your compensation award.
Why Make Your Claim with Us?
Medical Negligence Claims can be complex and time consuming. It is important that you work with specialist Cauda Equina Syndrome solicitors as this will boost your chances of receiving the maximum compensation possible.
At Medical Negligence Direct, our panel of medical negligence solicitors take every case very seriously – and handle them individually. We also employ a customer-centric approach driven by a desire to meet your needs and give you the peace of mind knowing that you have the best possible legal support.
You can speak to one of our friendly solicitors by calling us on 0800 644 4240. Alternatively, you can fill out our claims assessment form and we will give you a call at your earliest convenience.