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Why Does CES Have Such A High Medico-Legal Profile?

For a rare condition, cauda equina syndrome has a high number of medico-legal claims. This is partly due to lack of awareness, and partly because if left untreated it will result in terrible consequences for the individual concerned.

Cauda equina syndrome – lack of awareness

Unfortunately medical practitioners in the UK do sometimes fail to understand the signs of cauda equina syndrome. This means a patient’s condition remains undiagnosed and their cauda equina nerves continue to be compressed. This is very dangerous as the nerves are incredibly sensitive and must be decompressed quickly if permanent harm is to be avoided. If treatment is not provided within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, long-term injury will occur.

Cauda equina syndrome – lack of urgency

Along with a lack of awareness, there can also be a lack of urgency when managing the condition. Any patient suspected of having cauda equina syndrome must be sent for an urgent MRI scan. If compression is diagnosed, surgery must be carried out on an emergency basis. This level of urgency is not always achieved and a patient may face delays at every stage, from being referred by the A&E department to delays in the radiology department.

Consequences of delayed treatment

If the diagnosis of treatment of cauda equina syndrome is delayed, the consequences will be very troubling. This is because irreparable damage will arise very quickly. There is only a small window of opportunity in which treatment will prove effective; if this window is missed, a patient will suffer permanent neurological complications. These include partial or total paralysis, chronic pain, loss of sexual sensation, urinary dysfunction and bowel dysfunction.

Cauda equina claims

Because the consequences of mismanaged cauda equina syndrome are so devastating, there is a good chance that a patient will be able to make a successful medical negligence claim. In order to make a cauda equina claim, you must be able to establish that there has been a breach of duty.

For example, a medical practitioner may have failed to recognise the red flag symptoms of cauda equina compression, resulting in an unacceptable delay in diagnosis. Or the surgical team may have decided to postpone treatment, meaning a patient’s condition progresses to the complete stages.

A solicitor who specialises in cauda equina claims will be able to advise whether or not there has been a breach of duty.

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If you believe you could make a claim, please 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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