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Failure to Diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome

Failure to Diagnose Cauda Equina SyndromeDespite a prompt referral to hospital with red flag symptoms, Peter was told he did not have cauda equina syndrome and was sent home.

After two days of lower back pain, Peter decided to attend his GP. The pain was radiating to his right buttock, his perineum was numb and he was having difficulty urinating. His GP was rightly concerned by these symptoms and immediately referred Peter to hospital for an orthopaedic opinion.

Peter took a taxi to the hospital straight away and was examined by the orthopaedic senior house officer who confirmed his symptoms of urinary dysfunction and reduced perineal sensation. He considered the need for an emergency MRI scan.

At this point, Peter should have undergone an emergency MRI which would have confirmed his cauda equina compression. With immediate surgery, it is likely that he would have recovered fully from his loss of function and sensation.

Unfortunately, a review by the orthopaedic specialist registrar changed the outcome for Peter. The registrar decided that Peter did not have cauda equina syndrome and sent him home.

Peter then had to wait for an outpatient MRI scan which he finally underwent a week later.

Five days later, having received no report after his MRI scan, Peter decided to see his GP again as he was starting to experience some urinary incontinence. Understandably, he was becoming worried.

Peter’s GP chased the MRI results straight away, at which point the hospital realised the severity of Peter’s condition. He was admitted to hospital that day and, finally, underwent decompression surgery the following day.

Unfortunately, due to the failure to diagnose and the delays in treatment, Peter has been left with both bladder and bowel problems.

We supported Peter in his claim for compensation for his poor standard of care and he was awarded over £40,000 in compensation.

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

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