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Eight Day Delay in Treating Acute Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome From Slipped Disc Not Diagnosed

After first seeking help for the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, Leyla had to wait eight days before being diagnosed and treated. By that stage her nerves had suffered irreparable damage and she has been left with long-term neurological problems.

Bending down to pick up her baby, Leyla suddenly suffered a severe shooting pain in her lower back. She attended her GP the same day and was given strong painkillers.

After three days, Leyla’s pain was no better and she had developed other symptoms including leg pain and numbness in her buttocks, anus and right foot. She returned again to her GP and after an examination was given more painkillers.

That night, however, Leyla also began to develop urinary problems finding it hard to begin urinating, and to fully empty her bladder. She returned to her GP the following day and described her symptoms, all of which corresponded with the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. Sadly no action was taken and Leyla was sent home.

Her symptoms continued to worsen, so Leyla persisted and returned to her GP once again. This time she saw a different GP who advised that she go to Accident and Emergency without delay.

In hospital Leyla underwent two neurological examinations, both of which indicated the presence of spinal nerve compression. The hospital should then have arranged an emergency MRI scan followed by emergency surgery. Instead, the hospital decided to refer Leyla to a specialist orthopaedic hospital.

The consultant examined Leyla and advised her that she had cauda equina syndrome and would need emergency surgery, which would probably be carried out that same day.

In fact, the operation was performed the next morning, eight days after Leyla had first sought help from her GP and four days since she had attended her GP with all the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome.

Unfortunately the delay in diagnosis and treatment has left Leyla with permanent injuries. The operation did not restore her function and she now has little control over her bladder. She has chronic lower back pain and leg weakness, making it hard for her to walk unassisted. She often uses crutches but is essentially housebound for most of the time.

The outcome could have been very different, had Leyla been operated on when she first displayed the red flag symptoms of spinal nerve compression. Because of the delays caused by her GP and the hospital, she has been left with a lifetime of neurological complications.

We helped Leyla pursue a claim for the injuries she wrongfully suffered. She was awarded in excess of £100,000 in compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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