Case studies

Failure to diagnose cervical instability


We acted on behalf of a girl with a rare genetic condition resulting in short stature. The condition also has a number of other conditions associated with it, including cervical instability.

Unfortunately, when she was almost 20 months of age, she suffered a spinal cord injury following subluxation of her cervical spine and, as a consequence, she developed a quadriparesis. Her lower limbs were affected more than her upper limbs but she had limited strength in her upper limbs. She could not walk unaided but, generally, could use a walking frame when indoors. Outside, she was increasingly reliant on a wheelchair and her wheelchair-dependence was likely to increase as she gets older.

Her claim related to the delay in the diagnosis of her underlying condition by her treating paediatricians and the failure to investigate and treat the instability of her cervical spine. Liability was originally denied but conceded following the issue and service of proceedings. The parties subsequently investigated the quantum of the claim, which was particularly complex in view of the client’s underlying condition and the implications of that on her future mobility and needs.


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP