Our client presented at hospital with a history of back pain and some foot numbness. He had undergone two previous spinal surgeries, with limited benefit.
After review, it was agreed that our client would benefit from further surgery to a disc in his spine to decompress the spinal cord. The area identified for surgery was at spinal level L4/L5. During the surgery a dural tear occurred which meant that an inserted screw needed to be repositioned and resulted in a 2 hour increase to the duration of the surgery.
After the surgery, our Client suffered with continuing pain and numbness and a MRI scan showed that the surgery had been carried out on an area, 1 level disc higher than intended.
Further surgery was carried out several days later at the correct site. However, a haematoma complicated his recovery and resulted in our client requiring a third surgical procedure to drain the haematoma.
After an internal investigation by the hospital, the initial surgery was categorised as a ‘Never Event’. In other words, the insertion of the screw at the incorrect level was wholly preventable, should never have happened and was negligent.
As a result of the surgery, our Client developed incomplete cauda equina syndrome affecting his neurological function. He suffered from perineal sensory loss; a neurogenic bladder which required self-catheterisation; neuropathic pain which required daily pain medication; and a significant reduction in mobility. Our Client was previously a very active elderly gentleman whose quality of life was severely affected by events with the likelihood of being wheelchair dependant in the future.
How we helped
We obtained an early admission of liability from the Defendant. It was admitted that the surgery had been performed at the wrong level of the spine, and that this amounted to a “Never Event”. As a result of securing the early admission, we were able to obtain an interim payment of compensation from the Defendant to allow our client to obtain the therapy and equipment that he needed.
However, the Defendant continued to deny that all of our client’s ongoing problems were caused by their negligent treatment.
We continued to fight our client’s case and obtained evidence from a Consultant Neurosurgeon who advised that had surgery been performed at the correct level, our client would have avoided developing incomplete cauda equina syndrome. Due to the tenacity of our team, the Defendant subsequently admitted liability in full.
In order to maximise our client’s compensation, we obtained further expert evidence from a Consultant Urologist, a Pain Specialist and a Psychiatrist to help identify the nature and extent of our client’s injuries; as well as reports from Care/OT and accommodation experts outlining our client’s future needs.
Our Client’s settlement of compensation ensures that he will be able to obtain the necessary care and support, and adaptations to his home environment assisting him and his family in the years to come.