Settlement of claim for delayed diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome at Surrey hospital for man in his fifties

Our specialists settled a claim shortly before trial for a man who attended St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey soon after developing signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES). He presented with back pain, right leg weakness, numbness in his saddle area and difficulty passing urine – all red flag signs of developing CES.

Despite the A&E team arranging an MRI scan which confirmed the presence of compression of the Cauda Equina nerve roots and the claimant’s clinical presentation, no steps were taken by the orthopaedic team at the hospital to arrange urgent surgery. It was almost 36 hours after his initial attendance before he was transferred to a neurosurgical team at another hospital for surgery and more than 48 hours between his initial attendance and his surgery.

While some allegations were made against the A&E team, the main failures supported by our experts were by the orthopaedic team who failed to appreciate the significance and urgency of the claimant’s condition. It was our case that he should have been transferred immediately to a neurosurgical team (as the orthopaedic team had no theatre list until the following afternoon) and, with appropriate care, he would have had surgery that night or first thing the following day.  

It was alleged that if such surgery had taken place at any point in time up until around midday the day after his diagnosis of CES, the claimant would have been left with a significantly better outcome. Specifically, it was alleged that the claimant has sustained permanent damage to the S1 nerve and now suffers from significant bowel and sexual dysfunction, cramping and pain in the right thigh, pain and sensory disturbance in the right leg, imbalance, fatigue, and consequential low mood sufficient to qualify for a diagnosis of major depression.

As the claimant was left with long-term, significant limitations in all aspects of his life, he made a substantial claim for the total impact which included his need for assistance at home, reduced earning capacity, pension loss and medical costs. The case was denied in its entirety until very close to trial when the other side indicated a willingness to settle and offered a six figure sum which was accepted.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP