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Award for negligent delay in performing emergency spinal surgery for slipped disc

Award negligent delay performing emergency spinal surgery cauda equina case study

Cauda Equina Case Study

Alicia was a successful self-employed conference organiser and ran her own photography business in Birmingham. Following a period of minor back problems, she awoke one morning to find that she had developed severe back pain. She was taken to Cheltenham Hospital where a prolapsed disc was suspected. However, she was discharged later that day without an MRI scan having been undertaken.

Alicia’s condition soon deteriorated and, following a scan at a different hospital the next day, she was diagnosed with a severe prolapsed disc. By that point, emergency spinal surgery had been delayed for two days and, as a result, she had suffered permanent nerve damage having developed cauda equina syndrome.

Alicia was left in constant pain with a range of distressing symptoms which had a severe impact on her personal and professional life. She suffered debilitating incontinence, additional leg weakness and pain as well as a psychiatric injury. It took several years before the effect on Alicia’s life became fully apparent.

Nicholas Tubb, a leading expert in clinical negligence at Shoosmiths handled Alicia’s case, which went to trial. Compelling evidence of negligence in the failure to diagnose her prolapsed disc was presented to the Court and that it was this delay which resulted in her suffering cauda equina syndrome.

The case was successful at trial and substantial award was made by the Court. As a consequence, Alicia now has access to the care and resources she will need for the rest of her life. The award will also enable her to set up a photographic studio adapted for her needs, so that she can try and resume her photography business.

When making the award for the care and resources she would require for the rest of her life, the judge paid tribute to Alicia’s ‘enthusiasm, drive, ambition, and talent’.