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Reasons For A Delayed Diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is often associated with a delay in diagnosis. But why do medical practitioners find it so hard to diagnose? What effects does this have on the patient? And does a delay amount to medical negligence?

Delayed diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and damaged. This will lead to a loss of sensation and function in the bladder, perineum, buttocks, legs and sexual organs.

Despite there being a constellation of symptoms, doctors often fail to understand what is causing them, overlooking the possibility of cauda equina syndrome. This results in a list of medical failings that prevents the accurate diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome.

Most commonly, medical practitioners fail to:

The failings often occur due to a lack of understanding, or due to a lack of urgency in management.

Consequences of a delayed diagnosis of CES

The consequences of a delayed diagnosis can be extremely serious. This is because there is only a small window of opportunity in which to successfully treat cauda equina syndrome.

Within a very short space of time, the compressed nerves will become so damaged that the injury is irreparable. It is difficult to say the time frame available, but some experts suggest that irreversible nerve damage will arise within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Surgical treatment carried out after the nerves are irreparably damaged will have little effect. Consequently a patient will be left with ongoing neurological problems of a life-changing nature.

Cauda equina complications can include total/partial paralysis of the legs, bladder dysfunction (requiring intermittent self-catheterisation) and sexual dysfunction (including the loss of sensation and inability to achieve an erection).

Claiming for a delayed diagnosis

If medical practitioners fail to diagnose cauda equina syndrome due to a lack of knowledge and/or a lack of urgency, the standard of care will be deemed unacceptable. If this causes a patient to suffer complications, such as those mentioned above, there will be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.

To find out if you can claim compensation for cauda equina syndrome, get in touch with us today.

Please call us free on 0800 234 3300, from a mobile click to call 01275 334030 or complete our Free Online Enquiry for a no cost, no obligation opinion.

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