Case Studies: Healthcare

£2.5 Million Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a surgical emergency where the nerves in the lower back suddenly become compressed due to a bulging disc in the spinal column.  Symptoms include bilateral pains or sciatica in both legs, weakness or numbness, saddle anaesthesia, and/or urinary disturbance.  It is a progressive condition which requires urgent surgical decompression if recovery is to be secured

O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors acted on behalf of a patient who sustained serious personal injury, loss and damage due to the failure by a Hospital Emergency Department to recognise that he was developing a serious spinal cord injury.

Our Client suffered from back pain intermittently.  His condition deteriorated and he began to present with sciatica, numbness in his left leg and groin, and urinary disturbance.  A friend, with medical qualifications, voiced suspicion that the patient was suffering from CES and that the condition needed to be excluded.  He was advised to attend the local Emergency Department. Notwithstanding the symptoms reported by the patient, which were red flags for the condition of cauda equina, no urgent investigation was undertaken.

In our Client’s case, the diagnosis was missed, notwithstanding the red flag symptomology, and the patient was discharged to the care of his GP.  He went on to develop significant bowel and bladder symptomology, and interference with his sexual function.  He returned to the Emergency Department approximately one month later, at which point appropriate investigation was undertaken, including MRI scanning.  Unfortunately the delay in investigation and diagnosis led to permanent injury and damage.

The patient suffers from poor mobility, pain, urinary hesitancy, sexual dysfunction, and bowel symptoms.  Such injury has impaired the Client’s quality of life, prevented him from following his chosen career, and imposed upon him a requirement for care in order to assist with his day to day needs.

Our Client instructed Patrick Mullarkey of this office to pursue a claim in relation to the injury that he suffered.  Medical evidence was obtained in order to prove the substandard care received by the Plaintiff and to document the nature and extent of the injuries. Ultimately the Defendant admitted breach of duty, as part of its Defence.  Thereafter we obtained detailed evidence in respect of the financial loss suffered by the Plaintiff as a consequence of the admitted breach of duty.  Evidence was obtained on loss of earnings, care costs, aids and equipment costs, case management costs, physiotherapy costs, cognitive behaviour therapy costs, podiatry costs, travel and vehicle costs, additional holiday costs, loss of services costs, accommodation costs, and miscellaneous other costs.  The case was listed for hearing and prior to the commencement of the trial, the Defendant engaged in negotiations which led to a settlement in the sum of £2,500,000 plus full costs.

Our client comments, “From Day one of my case Patrick was very helpful, professional and extremely knowledgeable about my case and condition and I knew I was in the right hands. I was kept informed all the way by Rosemary. She was great and a nice person to speak to. The Medical Experts in my opinion were the best you could get for the rare condition that I have. The outcome of the case far exceeded anything I could have imagined and we are all so thankful to Patrick and Rosemary. The service that we received was second to none and has been life changing for our family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts”.






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