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to start a claim for medical negligence?

(44 Posts)
tolittletoolate Sat 01-Mar-14 17:32:17

I suffered from Cauda Equina Syndrome in 2010 and it was missed by the hospital and not operated on and I'm now having to use a wheelchair. I also have problems controlling my bladder. It was only when I got a copy of my MRI scans and showed them to a different doctor and he spotted what was wrong, that was 2 years after it happened! I've been fobbed off with numerous things being told I had GBS/CIDP to MS and Fibromyalgia.
I'm in a lot of pain all the time with sciatic pain in both legs, stabbing pain, pins and needles and burning.
At the time 1 doctor said I needed decompression surgery but another doctor said it wasn't bad enough to operate on.
I take amitriptyline, naproxen, paracetamol, tramadol and codeine. Nothing really makes a difference I might as well be eating smarties!

I've been on a CES forum today and they have advised me to get a solicitor and start a claim.

dancingwithmyselfandthecat Sat 01-Mar-14 17:40:11

No you would not be unreasonable. At the very least speak to a solicitor. Irwin Mitchell and Leigh Day are good if you are seeking recommendations. (I don't workfor either, by the way).

Limitation periods normally expire after 3 years. In your case yours wont start running until the date of your knowledge which you say was 2 years later, but this would still mean you've only got about a year so I would get in for some solicitors advice quickly. Most firms willgrant you a free half hour.

dancingwithmyselfandthecat Sat 01-Mar-14 17:44:18

By the way, Im not a lawyer so not giving you legal advice, just trying to impart a bit of my general knowledge! A good solicitor should explain everything properly.

WestieMamma Sat 01-Mar-14 17:44:24

I'm not an expert but my understanding is that you have to prove that your condition now is worse because the diagnosis was missed. Just missing the diagnosis at the time is not enough.

BitterOldOtter Sat 01-Mar-14 17:51:01

No WestieMamma, the test is whether the reasonably competent doctor would have made the correct diagnosis i.e. looking at things like whether an adequate history was taken, an appropriate assessment/examination of the patient. If so, and it was missed, then missing it was negligent.

However, you are correct in that some injury or loss has to flow from the failure to diagnose. If, for example, by the time of diagnosis, the patient's symptoms would have been the same in any event, there is no loss.

I second the recommendation for Irwin Mitchell or Leigh Day.

Finnbheara Sat 01-Mar-14 17:53:42

My understanding with corda equina is that the diagnosis and surgery has to happen within 48 hours of onset of symptoms which normally include double incontinence. Otherwise the nerve damage is more or less done and not fixable iyswim.

WestieMamma Sat 01-Mar-14 17:54:48

That's what I was trying to say BitterOldOtter but I couldn't get quite get what was going round in my head down in words. My brain is on a go slow today.

BitterOldOtter Sat 01-Mar-14 17:55:36

Oh and to the OP, my understanding of CES is that there is quite a small window of time in which the damage develops to the point where surgery will not relieve all symptoms.

Claims about this condition can become very complicated and focus heavily on the timing of the development of symptoms, so to have the best chance of your claim being successful you really do need a specialist clinical negligence solicitor, not just someone who does general personal injury. LD and IM as mentioned above do this, but depending on where you are you may want to check the Law Society directory and filter for clinical or medical negligence lawyers.

EnlightenedOwl Sat 01-Mar-14 17:57:36

JMW specialise in cauda equina claims

tolittletoolate Sat 01-Mar-14 18:01:54

I believe that if I had decompression surgery in the first instance then I wouldn't be in a wheelchair now and incontinent.

BitterOldOtter Sat 01-Mar-14 18:06:18

That would entirely depend on the symptoms when you first presented to the hospital/doctor and how quickly they could/should have realised it was CES and transferred you for surgery. The main defence in these cases is that the lesion had already progressed beyond surgical repair at the point the doctor was first seeing the patient.

BitterOldOtter Sat 01-Mar-14 18:07:15

I'm not saying that to sound negative btw, just to let you know that these things aren't simple. If what you say is the case, you should definitely consult a lawyer for advice.

iseenodust Sat 01-Mar-14 18:07:43

Cannot recommend Irwin Mitchell.

nennypops Sat 01-Mar-14 18:17:00

I'd suggest Simpson Millar, London office.

caroldecker Sat 01-Mar-14 18:36:52

Depends what you want to get out of it - claiming will cost the NHS time and money regardless of whether you 'win'. No amount of money will change the position you are in. If you want to 'blame' someone, then YABU. If, however, you want to ensure an error does not occur for another patient, there are other ways of ensuring an investigation without legal costs for all involved.

velvetspoon Sat 01-Mar-14 18:41:52

Don't go near Irwins, dreadful firm.

Leigh Day are one of the big hitters, Stewarts are also excellent (though I know them more in a general PI context rather than med neg).

It is a hugely complex and specialised area of law - and what may seem like negligence can't always be proved. But a good solicitor at a good firm will be able to give you sound advice on your prospects of success.

ohfourfoxache Sat 01-Mar-14 18:46:18

Definitely, definitely seek legal advice. It's negligence.

The only thing I would advise is to be careful which solicitor you go with - there are a lot of ambulance chasers out there and you need to go with a sensible, respected firm if you can.

To expedite, it may be worthwhile seeing if you can get copies of your complete medical records if you haven't already

KarenBrockman Sat 01-Mar-14 18:48:44

I could have and I decided not to. I would not think badly of you for getting legal advice and going ahead making a claim.

iamsoannoyed Sat 01-Mar-14 19:07:12

I'm a doctor- as Bitteroldotter said, the test is whether a competent doctor would have made the correct diagnosis at the time you presented to that doctor, based on the information available to them at the time- or should have been available, had they taken a suitably thorough history and performed appropriate examination and investigation.

If the information was (or should have been) available, and the diagnosis was missed, then missing it was negligent. On the flip side, this means that if a similarly qualified doctor would have followed the same diagnostic steps and treatment options as the doctor in you case, then it will not be deemed negligent- even if there is has been an adverse effect on you.

Note, I said similarly qualified doctor would have managed the case in a similar manner (so for example, a GP would comment on the management of a case by a GP- GPs would not be expected to make a diagnosis that falls into a specialist category, although they wold be expected to refer appropriately). It can get quite complicated.

Also, if by the time you presented, medical intervention would have been unlikely to alter the outcome, then you will also struggle to be compensated.

I can only imagine the terrible impact this has had on you. I can't say, based on the evidence you have given, that this categorically will be a case of medical negligence, but if you feel strongly that you have been treated poorly, then get some advice.

BitterOldOtter Sat 01-Mar-14 19:08:10

It's negligence.

I'm not sure there is enough information in this thread for you to make that statement ohfourfoxache.

I also think it's a bit unhelpful in relation to managing the OP's expectations, as she may go on to find out she has a life changing injury that could not have been avoided even with the best possible care.

iamsoannoyed Sat 01-Mar-14 19:12:50

Agree with bitteroldotter again- it may be that there was negligence in this case, or maybe there hasn't been. We don't have all the information- neither, by the sound of it, does the OP. She needs to get legal advice, who can look into her case.

As I said, OP, it can get complicated- it's not just whether the 2nd doctor could have diagnosed it on the basis of the scan (especially if they are a specialist, where the other doctor was not), it's whether other competent doctors would have managed the case in the same way or not.

KarenBrockman Sat 01-Mar-14 19:16:29

I also think as someone else has said further up thread. It can help if you don't go down the compensation route to do some complaints and have some meetings. I have had a mixed response to this way of handling the situation myself.

As I say I am not going to go down the legal route for myself. I have all the paperwork and apologises for my children, so when they are 18 they can make their own choices on the matter for themselves. I feel I have done a lot to educate a lot of agencies, as it was community health also. I doubt they will make the same mistakes again with another family.

ohfourfoxache Sat 01-Mar-14 19:27:11

It was only when I got a copy of my MRI scans and showed them to a different doctor and he spotted what was wrong, that was 2 years after it happened!

^ basis for comment, but happy to stand corrected.

I assume that the fact that this was picked up by another dr (who may or may not be a specialist, and it is assumed that the person who should have been interpreting the results in 2010 was adequately qualified to do so) is sufficient evidence to suggest that failure to correctly diagnose was negligent.

iamsoannoyed Sat 01-Mar-14 20:16:31


You may be right, and on the face of it I can see why you might automatically assume that it is an open and shut case.

I have experience of being an expert witness though, and as I said, if another doctor suitably qualified would have followed a similar management plan as the doctor being sued (even if another witness for the claimant says they would have acted differently) it may not be viewed as negligence- it comes down to the specifics of the individual case in these instances. Especially if the diagnosis is a contentious one, or the management of the diagnosis has a number of equally valid treatments.

Also, if the management of the case, whether ideal or otherwise, would have made little or no difference to the outcome for the patient, then you get into further medicolegal minefields.

kc77 Sat 01-Mar-14 21:51:01

How much money would you need to make you feel better, how much would make your condition go away? Genuinely interested

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