Substantial award of damages for A&E's failure to diagnose and treat an unstable spinal fracture resulting in wheelchair dependency for 71 year old

Richard Lodge and Eurydice Cote successfully secured a damages settlement for a 71 year old client who sustained spinal cord injury following the failure to diagnose and treat an unstable spinal fracture.  Our client fell at church in November 2013 and immediately felt a tearing/pulling sensation on the side of her torso.  She was unable to stand and was taken to A&E by ambulance.  Despite being assessed in A&E, having abnormal appearances on her chest x-ray and persistent low blood pressure, she was sent home with a diagnosis of a fractured rib without a detailed medical investigation having taken place.

Our client remained in pain for two weeks at which point she fell again, this at home.  Upon falling she lost sensation and power in her legs.  She was readmitted to A&E and after a delay of 2 days underwent a spinal MRI scan.  This examination identified the presence of a unstable spinal fracture causing severe compression to her spinal cord at the T10/11 level.  Our client sustained a complete spinal cord injury and was classified as a T10 ASIA A paraplegic.  She is wheelchair dependent and requires assistance with day to day activities.

The claim centred around the treatment our client received in A&E during both attendances and in particular, the failure to act upon the abnormal medical findings noted during her first attendance (abnormal chest x-ray, low blood pressure and raised blood lactate).  It was successfully established that these abnormalities should have been investigated and had appropriate treatment been provided, her spinal fracture would have been identified and stabilisation surgery would have taken place before her spinal cord injury occurred.

The substantial award of damages will assist our client to fund her on-going care, therapy, equipment, travel and accommodation needs.

If you, or a member of your family has experienced a similar situation, please visit our spinal injuries page or contact our medical negligence & personal injury team.

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