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Radiology Negligence and Cauda Equina Syndrome

A diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is largely dependent upon an MRI scan. If the radiology department fails to achieve an acceptable standard of care, meaning a cauda equina diagnosis is delayed, there may be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

MRI to diagnose cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome must be diagnosed with an MRI scan. Although doctors may firmly suspect cauda equina compression due to a patient’s symptoms and clinical presentation, a diagnosis can only be confirmed with an MRI scan. This will show whether or not there is compression of the nerve roots.

This MRI scan must be carried out upon an emergency basis, meaning within four hours of a patient being admitted. Only with a swift diagnosis and emergency treatment will a patient have a chance of making a full recovery. If there is a delay, the nerves will become irreparably damaged due to the length of time they have been compressed.

Failure to perform an emergency scan

Unfortunately, however, there are times when an emergency scan is not carried out. Sometimes this is the fault of the preceding medical practitioners – such as a GP or A&E doctor. Indeed, it may be that these clinicians failed to recognise the signs of cauda equina compression, and therefore failed to arrange an emergency MRI scan.

If a patient does not undergo an emergency MRI scan because of a failure to suspect cauda equina syndrome, there may be a case of medical negligence.

On other occasions, fault will lie with the radiology department. There is some reluctance amongst radiologists to perform emergency MRI scans for cauda equina syndrome as 75% of patients will in fact have a negative result. In other words, three quarters do not have cauda equina syndrome, but another non-urgent condition.

In addition to a delay in performing an MRI scan, the radiology department may be negligent due to:

Cauda equina syndrome and medical negligence

If a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is delayed due to substandard medical care, and this causes a patient harm, there may be a case of medical negligence. To find out more, you need to talk to a solicitor who specialises in cauda equina claims. It is important not to hesitate when seeking legal advice as claims must be brought within three years of the event.

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