Legal experts call for more awareness of rare condition, after £500,000 pay-out for victim living with life-changing consequences.

02 September 2019

The medical negligence team at leading UK regional law firm Wilkin Chapman solicitors has called for more national awareness of a life-changing condition, which strikes suddenly and if left untreated can have a devastating impact upon its victims.

Lincolnshire-based Senior solicitor Jonathan Baker, and his colleagues, solicitor Liam May and trainee legal executive Fleur Gladden, recently negotiated a settlement of just under £500,000 on behalf of a client who contracted Cauda Equina Syndrome – by the time it was detected and treated by medics, the condition had taken hold and the individual suffered life-altering consequences.

Fleur explained how the high settlement was awarded under a category of ‘special damages’, reflecting the financial loss incurred as a result of the negligence in not identifying the problem early enough. The damages will assist with the person’s care, house alterations and loss of earnings.

The condition hit the national headlines recently when the BBC featured talented dancer Catrina Farnell. The 23-year-old is now reliant on crutches and a wheelchair with her legs, bowel, bladder and sexual organs severely damaged. Catrina was completely unaware of the condition, which came on suddenly when she experienced excruciating back pain.

Cauda Equina Syndrome requires surgery within hours to avoid the damage that Catrina now has to live with and, says Fleur, such cases are happening across the country. Signs include nerve pain down both legs as well as pins and needles or numbness around the bottom and inner thighs.

The Royal College of GPs says the condition is rare, but every doctor should be on alert for it because of how serious it can be. The NHS actually projects the cost of Cauda Equina Syndrome compensation claims for 2014 to 2016 to be £68-million, with two-thirds of this for delay or failure of diagnosis or treatment

“Urgent treatment is vital in these types of cases, and it is extremely important that those suspected of suffering with Cauda Equina receive emergency hospital admission and emergency surgery. This is because the longer it goes untreated, the greater the chance it will lead to permanent paralysis and incontinence,” said Fleur.

While a major awareness campaign has seen heightened understanding of meningitis, this Syndrome has gone relatively unnoticed and Fleur called for action to ensure this was rectified.

“It is clear there needs to be more of a push to highlight the signs and symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome in the clinical setting but also in the public domain. Early hospital admission and access to emergency surgery is the only way to minimise the risk and potential consequences of an otherwise life altering condition,” she added.

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