Compensation recovered following deficiencies in care resulting in cauda equina syndrome

Mr JC recovered compensation following deficiencies in the care he received, resulting in the development of cauda equina syndrome, leaving him with serious physical consequences and an inability to continue working.

Mr JC had a long history of episodic back pain over many years but this started to deteriorate towards the end of 2013.  On 1 December 2013 he underwent an MRI scan which showed a significant worsening of the prolapse of the L4/L5 disc since a previous scan undertaken in February 2013.  That scan was not reviewed by the pain management consultant requesting it until 17 December and neither was the consultant alerted by the radiologist before that.

Mr JC was then told by the pain management consultant that an immediate referral would be made to an orthopaedic consultant.  By 28 December 2013, Mr JC was in such pain that an ambulance was called and he was taken to the nearest Accident & Emergency Department.  Following further deterioration, he was transferred to Hospital where he underwent spinal decompression surgery on 30 December 2013.

Mr JC alleged that the Trust failed to alert the requesting doctor urgently of the result of the MRI scan on 1 December 2013 which showed that there was a large disc protrusion causing compression of the cauda equina nerve roots.  Once this was communicated to the requesting clinician on the evening of 17 December, there was a further failure in communicating the seriousness of the situation to Mr JC.  A referral was to be made to the orthopaedic consultant on a planned care basis as opposed to urgent treatment.  This was a failure but there was a further systems error that resulted in the failure to send the referral.

The defendant admitted in June 2016 that there was an unacceptable delay in reporting the MRI scan of 1 December 2013 and a failure to make a referral to the orthopaedic team.  It was also accepted that the claimant, “but for” the failures, would have undergone decompression surgery before he developed complete cauda equina syndrome and would, therefore, have had a better outcome in terms of bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Following the admission, the focus for our team of clinical negligence solicitors was then on quantifying the claim, and following negotiations, the case settled before we issued proceedings for several hundred thousand pounds.

Moore Blatch Clinical Negligence Solicitor, Maya Sushila, who handled the case, said “this was an interesting case as initially it was anticipated allegations would relate to the treatment at the end of December 2013 as opposed to earlier on in the treatment timeline.  An early admission on breach of duty and causation led to a much swifter resolution of the case as efforts were then focused on quantifying the claim. Despite Mr JC’s considerable efforts to return to work as a mortgage advisor he was unable to sustain the level of the job that he had been previously been able to and had to stop working.  Achieving this settlement has meant that Mr JC can draw a line under the stressful legal process with the confidence that he has some financial recompense behind him to provide stability for him and his family.”.

Mr JC said “I am writing to say thank you for all that you have done for me over the last three years or so. It seems difficult to put into words exactly how I feel, but I think it’s fair to say you have been so much more than just my solicitor. Your expertise in clinical negligence has been truly outstanding and your professionalism absolutely first class. However, equally importantly you have been a confidante and a friend, consistently giving advice, support and belief all the way through what has been a difficult journey. Now that journey is coming to an end I am so grateful for the skilfully negotiated settlement you have secured. Of course I would swap any settlement for my health back, but that can’t happen. Knowing that my financial future is secure and knowing that I can support my family and move on with my life means everything to me. Without you that would not have happened. Speaking to you was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”