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Delayed Treatment of Spinal Stenosis – Mr S

03/04/20  |  Delayed Treatment Claims

Background


Mr S developed lower back pain for which he consulted his GP. He was prescribed rest and painkillers. The back pain did not resolve and, over the next couple of weeks, he also developed severe pain in his legs, stiffness and loss of control of his legs. He again consulted his GP, who prescribed stronger painkillers. Mr S's symptoms continued to worsen and he consulted his GP for the third time. The GP then suspected Cauda Equina Syndrome and referred him to the local hospital where he was admitted.

At the hospital, Mr S underwent an MRI of the lumbar and sacral spine which showed no evidence of Cauda Equina Syndrome or of overt nerve root compression. However, it did identify disc bulges at L2/3, L3/4 and L4/5.

Mr S's symptoms continued and he underwent a neurology review, following which the plan was to image the whole spine to exclude spinal pathology. Mr S underwent MRI of the cervical thoracic spine, which was reported as showing no orthopaedic cause for his symptoms and so he was referred back for further neurological review.

The neurologists arranged a lumbar puncture and EMG tests. Mr S was then diagnosed as suffering from an uncommon form of Guillain-Barre syndrome, for which he underwent treatment before being discharged from hospital.

Following discharge from hospital, Mr S was kept under neurological review but there was little improvement in his symptoms. He sought a second opinion from another orthopaedic and spinal surgeon, who reviewed the existing radiology and advised that Mr S had a moderate to severe spinal stenosis. He advised facet joint injections followed by lumbar decompression surgery.

Mr S underwent the facet joint injections with good response, but the symptoms returned. Therefore he underwent the surgery, following which he experienced immediate pain relief and began to slowly regain strength in his legs.

The claim was pursued on the basis that the MRI scan of the cervical thoracic spine was wrongly reported as it did in fact show the spinal stenosis. Had that MRI been accurately reported, Mr S would have avoided lengthy and unnecessary neurological investigations and would have undergone lumbar decompression surgery 12 months earlier.

Settlement


The Defendant denied breach of duty and causation in their Letter of Response, but then settled before the issue of court proceedings for £25,000.

This case was led by Corrina Mottram.


NOTE: While our case studies are designed to give an indication of the outcomes that can be achieved in these circumstances, the compensation awarded in individual cases can vary significantly due to a range of factors, including effects on life expectancy, the severity of the negligence that took place, and the financial impact.

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