Hero Image

Spinal surgical errors


For some people, one of the most effective treatments for chronic and often debilitating pain is spinal surgery.

For example, it can treat low back pain − a condition that nearly everyone experiences during their lives. Surgery can help reduce long-term pain in your arms or legs too. But surgical errors that can occur during an operation on the spine can also have a life-changing impact.

Our expert medical negligence solicitors have substantial experience of handling spinal surgical error cases. And we’re here to help you if a spinal operation leaves you – or a loved one – with long-term problems. From permanent damage to the spinal nerves to problems with bowel and bladder control or even paralysis, you could be able to claim compensation for surgical errors.

What are the different types of spinal surgery?

‘Spinal surgery’ is the term for a number of different procedures that may be performed on the spine. It’s often a last resort, however. In most cases, non-surgical treatments are first used to relieve any pain caused by pressure on the nerves in the spine. It can be an option if you suffer from other spinal problems such as weakness or deformity too.

Some of the common types of spinal surgery include:

Spinal surgical errors: How do they happen?

Like all spinal injury claims for medical negligence, surgical errors are rare and – in most cases – you can expect to receive high quality care during an operation on your spine. Yet, mistakes do sadly happen. If something does go wrong and you are left with long-term pain or even lifelong disability, you could be able to claim compensation for the surgical error(s) responsible.

It could be an honest accident by the surgeon who performed your operation. Or there could be other factors involved – such as a mistake caused by a professional who hasn’t taken the right precautions or who doesn’t have the proper qualifications and/or experience to carry out the procedure.

One example of negligent spinal surgery is where an underlying original problem isn’t dealt with properly, including the failure to remove a slipped disc where it is pressing down on the nerves as they leave the spine. If this error isn’t diagnosed until after the operation, it would mean you have to undergo an unnecessary second procedure. And this can increase your risk of injury.

In any spinal operation, there are risks. But avoidable injuries can also occur when major blood vessels or the nerves themselves are cut. This can result from the wrong surgical approach or a failure to protect those vessels or nerves. If you or a loved one experience any of these surgical errors, you may have a case – call 0370 086 8686 or contact us today to see how we can help.

Can spinal surgical errors cause infection?

Infection is an ever-present risk in hospitals – despite all the efforts to prevent it. If your spine gets infected, it can be really dangerous. Any swelling can put pressure on the nerves or blood vessels, which – in turn – could lead to permanent nerve damage.

An infection can also scar your spine and cause long-term problems such as loss of mobility or sexual dysfunction. If you suffer a spinal infection and a surgical error is the cause, you might have a case. And our team of specialist solicitors have the skills and expertise to help if you do.

Can I make a spinal surgical error compensation claim?

No one should come out of an operation with further problems that require long-term – or even lifelong – care and treatment. If you or a loved one are now coming to terms with the impact of a surgical error caused by medical malpractice, you may have a claim for compensation.

In any operation on the spine, surgical errors can take many different forms. And such mistakes or negligent treatment can often have a serious, debilitating and lasting impact. If you think this is what happened to you or a loved one, it’s essential to get proper support from legal experts.

At Shoosmiths, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors can help when you believe you might have a spinal surgical error claim. Using our years of experience, we can tell you if you do – and what your options are. For a free initial consultation, call 0370 086 8686 or contact us now.

How common are spinal surgical errors?

Here in the UK, surgical errors are rare – and there’s no reason to doubt the quality of care that you’ll experience. But mistakes do happen. In the five years between April 2012 and April 2017, one study found that clinical negligence claims for spinal surgery are estimated to have cost the NHS in England £535.5 million. And the study also found the number of claims was going up too.

In nearly a quarter of cases, nerve damage was the outcome of the surgical errors involved. But cauda equina syndrome and ‘inadequate decompression’ also led to claims being made.

How can a spinal surgical error affect me or a loved one?

The impact of a spinal surgical error can be traumatic, upsetting and debilitating. It doesn’t just affect the individual themselves, either. Friends and family members can also feel the effects of surgical errors – not least if it means a person needs ongoing care for the rest of their life.

To start, the aim of an operation on your spine is to help relieve existing pain and improve your quality of life. So, it’s one reason why the impact of a spinal surgical error can be felt so deeply. Not only has the operation failed to make things better. It has, in fact, made things worse.

The impact goes much further than that, however.

For some people, the impact can mean learning to live with new or additional long-term pain in the back, neck, limbs, fingers or toes. Spinal surgical errors can also cause permanent damage to either the spinal cord or nerves. In turn, this can lead to loss of bladder control or paralysis.

With the physical impact, there is always an emotional one too, and feelings of anger, frustration or distress are not uncommon. So, it’s only right you get the care and support you need to rebuild. 

How can Shoosmiths help?

At Shoosmiths, our aim is to help you get the answers, advice and support you need. At a time when you might not know where to turn, our friendly experts are here and ready to help.

If you or a loved one are left feeling the physical and emotional effects of a spinal surgical error, we can work towards securing the compensation you need. From the moment you first come to us for a free initial consultation, we’ll make sure that you know exactly where you stand.

We want to make it possible for people just like you to claim surgical error compensation. Using our skills and experience, we’ll do all we can to make sure your pain and suffering is recognised.

In addition, we also have close relationships with leading organisations, such as the Spinal Injury Association. It means we can put you and your family on the right path when it comes to getting the specialist care and treatment that you might need after a spinal surgical error.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, why not talk to us about your experience for free and in confidence. Call 0370 086 8686 or contact us now to start the conversation.

Why should I make a claim?

We know the idea of making a claim for surgical error compensation can seem daunting. But it needn’t be. And there are some compelling reasons to start a claim if you believe that an error during a spinal operation has caused you avoidable pain and suffering.

One important aim of any surgical error compensation claim is to get put in touch with the best possible care, rehabilitation and treatment options. At Shoosmiths, we help make this happen – and do what we can to make sure you have all the tools needed to live as full a life as possible.

Spinal surgical errors: What do I need to prove?

Like all medical negligence claims, a successful spinal surgical error case must be able to prove that, on the balance of probabilities, the care and treatment you received was negligent and caused you harm. It must be clear that your care was not up to standard, that your pain is the direct result of the surgical error, and that you’ve suffered financial loss too.

The impact, for example, could mean you’re now unable to work.

Our expert solicitors can help you build a strong case and get all the proof you need. As part of the process, we’ll collect statements and other evidence to help make sure your claim succeeds.

How much compensation could I receive for a surgical error?

There’s no set amount of compensation that you could receive for a spinal surgical error. Every claim is decided on its own merits – so it’s unique to you and your family. Any amount that you do receive will be made up of general, and special damages.

General damages reflect the type – and severity – of your injury. Judicial College guidelines set out how much you may receive.

Special damages, however, will be completely tailored to you and your circumstances. So, this could be shaped by factors such as ongoing care needs, lost earnings or special equipment.

How long do I have to make a claim?

For all spinal surgical error claims, a time limit applies. You’ll have three years from the date of your operation to start your claim. If the impact of a surgical error isn’t immediately known, the three-year limit starts from the date you first find out.

You can also begin a claim for surgical error compensation on behalf of a child at any time until their 18th birthday. It’s at this point when the three-year limit comes into effect.

What should I do next?

If you think you have a spinal surgical error case, the first thing to do is contact us. As a “well-regarded clinical negligence practice with a strong reputation for handling an array of complex cases”, our legal experience can help you find out if you can make a successful claim.

It all starts with a free consultation. From there, we’ll let you know your options – including if our specialist solicitors can take your case on a no win no fee basis. Don’t let a spinal surgical error stop you from living a long and happy life – phone 0370 086 8686 or contact us today.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022

Contact our experts

Sorry, there are a few problems with the information you have entered. Please correct these before continuing.


One moment please...

Thank You

Your submission has been received. We'll be in touch soon.