Failure to investigate and treat a lumbar spine disc prolapse resulting in Cauda Equina Syndrome – settled for £750,000

Richard Lodge acted for our client who suffered a spinal disc prolapse following heavy lifting at work.  The failure of health professionals to perform the appropriate investigations resulted in the development of Cauda Equina Syndrome and subsequent permanent neurological impairment in terms of mobility, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and neuropathic pain.

Our client, a 46-year-old man at the time of his injury, was required to move heavy boxes while at work.  Over the course of two days he experienced pain, weakness and strange sensations in his lower body with the feeling that he needed to urinate, without being able to do so.  With the symptoms unchanged, he phoned NHS Direct who suspected a cauda equina injury (spinal nerve damage) due to the urinary problems reported.  On admission to hospital by ambulance, he was seen by a junior doctor who pronounced his x-ray normal and advised that there was “no evidence of acute cord compression”.

Other than being told to return if his symptoms did not improve, our client was given no advice and discharged.  At home, all of his symptoms persisted, with an increase in pain, weakness and loss of sensation in bowel and bladder function.  On re-admission to hospital by ambulance, an MRI scan was performed revealing a disc prolapse with severe compression of the cauda equina (the nerves at the base of the spinal cord.)  As the hospital was unable to operate on an emergency basis, our client was transferred to another hospital where disc decompression surgery was performed.

Richard Lodge at Kingsley Napley brought an action against the defendant alleging that it was negligent in failing to suspect Cauda Equina Syndrome and in failing to undertake the appropriate investigations to identify the large central disc prolapse in his spine.  Our client alleged that, as a result of that failure, he developed Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Liability was admitted and the defendant acknowledged that, had our client undergone surgical decompression of his cauda equina following his first admission to hospital, he would have been left with no neurological dysfunction and would have had normal bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Our client’s injuries affect his daily living and have had a significant impact on his psychological well-being.  He is able to walk around his home only by holding on to furniture for support and is reliant on walking sticks when out of the house, though moves slowly and with pain.

The extent of our client’s injuries impact on his ability to carry out day to day tasks such as driving, socialising, general household tasks and prevented his return to full time employment.  His neurosurgical expert was of the opinion that in later life he will require assistance in terms of home support and mobility aids including a wheelchair, though his life expectancy is not impacted.

The case settled out of court for £750,000.

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility