The Plaintiff in this matter, a young father in his early thirties, attended the A & E Department of his local hospital in early May 2015, complaining of ongoing recurrent pain on his left side from his lower back region down to his thigh. The Plaintiff was diagnosed with sciatica and referred for physiotherapy. The Plaintiff returned to the A & E Department on 28 May 2015, when he arrived by ambulance following a collapse at his home.

It was noted that he had lower back pain radiating down his left leg and numbness to his left leg and groin and these symptoms had been worsening over the past two to three days. He also had reduced sensations and had been constipated with no bowel motions for three days and was unable to urinate into a bottle. The Plaintiff was referred to the Orthopaedic team with queried cauda equina syndrome, however, following an examination he was prescribed painkillers and was discharged with a spinal clinic referral with the view to having an MRI carried out at a later date. The Plaintiff returned to the A & E Department once again on 31 May 2015 complaining of numbness down his left leg and urinary and faecal incontinence. Following an examination, he was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome and then transferred to another hospital urgently where he underwent emergency lumbar decompression surgery.

The Plaintiff was returned to his local hospital for after-care and was also subsequently admitted to the National Rehabilitation Hospital for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, as a result of the delay in diagnosis and delay in performing the surgery, he was left with significant injuries and ongoing symptoms including incontinence, sexual dysfunction and numbness in the legs and saddle area.

Expert reports dealing with the issue of liability were prepared by a consultant orthopaedic and spinal surgeon, a consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine and a consultant urological surgeon.

It was the Plaintiff’s case that he should have been warned of cauda equina syndrome during his attendance in early May and should have been referred for an MRI on 28 May 2015. It was his case that had an MRI taken place on 28 May 2015, a cauda equina syndrome diagnosis would have been made, and he would have undergone surgery on that date, as opposed to 31 May 2015 and would have avoided his significant permanent injuries.

The Defendants admitted breach of duty in relation to the failure to refer the Plaintiff for an MRI on28 May 2015, however they denied causation and argued that even if a diagnosis had taken place on that date, the Plaintiff’s injuries would not have been avoided.

Proceedings were issued in September 2016 and the case was later fixed for trial. A mediation took place prior to the trial date and the case was ultimately resolved for the sum of €525,000 plus costs in favour of the Plaintiff.

If you have any further queries, please contact:

Mary Ní Ghuairim, Solicitor, Medical Negligence Group

10 May 2019

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