Medical Negligence News

Hospital Admits Misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Posted on: November 10th, 2012 by Medical Negligence

A hospital has admitted that one of its junior doctors misdiagnosed Cauda Equina Syndrome, which resulted in a patient sustaining an avoidable, life-long disability.

In May 2007, Michelle Chapman, aged forty-five for Melton in Leicestershire, went to her general practitioner with sensations of numbness and incontinence. She was told that she may be suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome, which is caused by trapping of nerves between collapsed vertebrae. The doctor told Ms Chapman that she should monitor her condition for any signs of deterioration, and call an ambulance if necessary.

Shortly after her visit to the GP, Ms Chapman went to the Leicester Royal Infirmary. There, a junior doctor said that she had no symptoms of the syndrome, and sent her home. When Ms Chapman’s GP called in order to make a follow-up appointment with his patient, he heard that Ms Chapman’s condition had indeed become worse and booked an emergency MRI scan at the hospital. This showed that Ms Chapman had already suffered significant nerve damage, and Ms Chapman had to have an operation to ensure that no further damage was done.

The surgery removed parts of the vertebrae that were constricting her nerves, but it proved too late to prevent Ms Chapman sustaining permanent and debilitating nerve damage. Ms Chapman has been left with numbness in her legs and will need to use crutches for the rest of her life.

Ms Chapman sought advice from a solicitor before proceeding to make a compensation claim against the University of Leicester NHS Trust – who manages the Leicester Royal Infirmary – for the misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome. Out-of-court negotiations between the parties resulted in an undisclosed settlement being paid out to Ms Chapman, which will enable her to move into a renovated home suitable for her condition, as well as pay for her special medical care.