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Red Flag Symptoms Of Cauda Equina Syndrome

The majority of patients with a compressed Cauda Equina will suffer certain ‘red flag’ symptoms which should lead medical professionals to make an accurate diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome. But what exactly are these red flag symptoms? And what happens if doctors do not recognise them in a timely fashion? Does this delay amount to medical negligence?

What do ‘Red Flag Symptoms’ Mean?

The Cauda Equina is a bundle of nerves located at the bottom of the spinal cord. If this becomes compressed for any reason (for example, because of a traumatic accident or a herniated disk) then problems will quickly ensue. Although every case is different, most patients will experience pain, along with bladder and bowel changes.

However, these early symptoms are very similar to other, more minor conditions such as a urinary tract infection. Therefore unless there has been an obvious history of trauma – such as a car crash – then doctors may initially make a misdiagnosis.

Nevertheless, as the nerves continue to be compressed, a patient will soon begin to suffer symptoms specifically associated with Cauda Equina Syndrome. These are called red flag symptoms, as they should act as a warning sign to medical professionals, suggesting the presence of Cauda Equina Syndrome. They should, therefore, prompt doctors into taking immediate action to confirm whether or not their suspicions are correct.

What are the Red Flag Symptoms of Cauda Equina?

The red flag symptoms that should alert medical professionals to the possibility of Cauda Equina Syndrome include:-

What Happens if the Red Flag Symptoms are not Recognised?

Recognising the red flag symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome is extremely important, as it is a serious condition that must be treated as quickly as possible if a patient is to make a full recovery. If good practice is carried out, a patient presenting with red flag symptoms will quickly be suspected of suffering from nerve compression. This initial diagnosis must then be confirmed with further tests and treatment performed without delay.

If, however, medical professionals fail to link a patient’s symptoms with a diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome, there could be devastating consequences. Experts suggest that no more than 48 hours should pass before a patient undergoes nerve decompression; any longer than this and he/she could be left with long-term complications.

Does this Amount to Medical Negligence?

If doctors fail to recognise the red flag symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome and an accurate diagnosis is delayed, there may be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

If this has happened to you, you need to speak to a legal expert. A solicitor will be able to offer more guidance, listening to the details of your treatment before suggesting whether or not you are in a position to claim compensation. However, if a delay in diagnosis caused you to suffer injury (for example, you have been left with permanent nerve damage) then you could be entitled to compensation.

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