Cauda Equina Syndrome Misdiagnosis Admitted by Hospital

A Leicester hospital has accepted that the misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome by a junior doctor resulted in a patient suffering a life-long disability which could have been avoided.

The patient, 45 year old Michelle Chapman from Melton in Leicestershire, went to her GP in May 2007 complaining of numbness and incontinence, and was alerted to the possibility that she was suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome – a condition caused by the nerves being trapped between collapsed vertebrae. Michelle´s GP advised her to look out for symptoms of the condition deteriorating and to summon an ambulance if necessary.

Some days later, Michelle visited the Leicester Royal Infirmary where she was told by a junior doctor that there were no signs of the condition and was sent home. It was only when Michelle´s doctor contacted her to follow-up the initial appointment that he heard of the deterioration in her condition and immediately booked an MRI scan at the hospital. The scan showed that significant nerve damage had already occurred and that Michelle required an operation to prevent further injury.

Michelle had surgery to remove part of the discs which were pressing on her nerve, but the operation was too late to prevent Michelle suffering permanent nerve damage which has left her with numbness in her legs, incontinence and requiring the lifelong use of crutches to assist her with walking.

After seeking legal counsel, Michelle made a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome against the University of Leicester NHS Trust – the authority responsible for treatment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary – and an undisclosed out-of-court settlement was agreed between Michelle´s legal advisors and the Trust which will see Michelle able to move into a specially adapted home and receive specialist medical care to help her adjust to living with Cauda Equina Syndrome.