A young woman has won her cauda equina claim against North Devon District Hospital
Our client, a young woman from Tiverton, Devon, attended the A & E department of the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple complaining of unbearable back pains, but was sent away with only a prescription for painkilling medication. Despite going back to the NDDH on several other occasions, senior clinicians failed to take her symptoms seriously; even when concerns were raised by a more junior doctor at the hospital who suspected that she needed urgent treatment.
It was not until her own GP insisted that the hospital treat her that she was eventually referred for an MRI scan. The hospital arranged for an ‘urgent‘ scan some two weeks later. They then took a further five days to send the results to her GP, but by then she had already suffered compression of a nerve root in her back and what is termed medically as complete Cauda Equina Syndrome. You can read more about the condition here.
Very sadly our client has been left with permanent neurological damage, causing severe back ache, constant shooting pains in her leg and foot, and significant bowel and bladder problems. It is unlikely that she will be able to manage anything other than sedentary work in the future and she is now permanently disabled.
If the North Devon District Hospital had taken her initial symptoms more seriously, the outcome would probably have been very different. The pressure on her disc could have been relieved by immediate surgery and she is unlikely to have suffered permanent damage to her nerve root. The prospect of further surgical intervention to improve her symptoms and quality of life is very limited and she has already undergone spinal cord stimulation with little sign of improvement.