Cauda Equina Claims: Why Medical Evidence is So Important

Geoffrey Simpson-Scott, Partner
Author:
Geoffrey Simpson-Scott
Partner, Head of Medical Negligence
Date:
27/04/2021

Independent medical evidence is a crucial part of Cauda Equina claims for compensation, as it must be proven that a clinical error happened and that this caused your subsequent health problems.

Yet the facts are often disputed in Cauda Equina claims, with expert witnesses on both sides disagreeing. Frustratingly, these same experts would probably agree if they were discussing your case in a clinical setting, where being right or wrong isn’t as important as agreeing on the correct course of treatment.

Each side’s expert will find support for their point of view, which is why it’s vitally important to have a specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor acting on your behalf.

A specialist in this area of law can arrange for you to be assessed by a wide variety of independent medical experts, who can compile detailed reports on your condition and give their professional views on the treatment you were given.

We have a trusted network of independent medical experts, including physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists and urologists, who can help prove that you received substandard medical care, and that this directly caused the health problems you’ve had since.

With this evidence, we can negotiate a fair compensation settlement that meets your needs, both now and in the future.

Contact our specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free claims assessment and we’ll be happy to discuss the details of your situation with you. Our friendly, supportive team of specialists can advise if you have a good chance of claiming compensation, and can discuss different funding options such as No Win, No Fee.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Proving Medical Negligence

Accurately establishing when your Cauda Equina symptoms worsened to become the ‘red flag’ signs doctors look for is a major battleground in a Cauda Equina compensation claim, as it’s unlikely that the doctor or nurse you saw wrote down everything you said or they did at the time.

As Cauda Equina Syndrome is much rarer than lower back pain or difficulties in urinating or defecating, it’s much less commonly seen by clinicians, and this can lead to two big problems:

      • Not considering all of your symptoms objectively, so they jump to the wrong conclusion
      • Not believing that they would get it wrong, and so not reconsidering their initial diagnosis

Another problem is “groupthink”, with medical staff not wanting to challenge senior clinicians. And then during the case, another false preconception can appear, when the clinician under scrutiny doesn’t want to accept that they were wrong.

Two Versions of Events

Because of these preconceptions, clinicians often remember the same events very differently to you, so if a case has to be settled in Court, the judge has to choose between your evidence and your clinicians’.

The Courts understand that the human memory isn’t perfect and look to earlier cases, not necessarily Personal Injury Claims, for guidance on how people remember things. At the same time, medical records can be seen as the only “objective” record of what happened when the possibility of Cauda Equina Syndrome was being considered.

Even where these records appear incomplete in important respects, the clinicians’ legal team will often not accept any fact which isn’t clearly stated in your medical records.

This problem repeats itself for every disputed fact in your case, because no fact is accepted as true unless it’s clearly supported by a corresponding contemporaneous document.

Expert Medical Evidence Can Make the Difference

The more ambiguity there is in the factual evidence in your case, the greater the disagreement between each side’s experts. So your Medical Negligence Solicitor must use all their skill and expertise of Cauda Equina cases to work with you and minimise this.

That’s one reason why we may have to arrange more than one medical assessment for you, as we may need a wide range of evidence from different specialists to prove that mistakes were made with your treatment.

We have a strong track record of success in cases like this. For instance, we recently helped a lady in her late 60s access treatment including CBT and physiotherapy, as well as specialist aids, equipment and services, after medical errors left her with serious mobility problems and a loss of bladder and bowel function.

We used our expertise in Cauda Equina claims to assemble compelling evidence, using reports from a physiotherapist, a consultant orthopaedic spinal surgeon, a psychologist, a urologist and a care/occupational therapy expert, to prove that medical negligence occurred.

With this evidence, we were able to negotiate a settlement with the hospital trust responsible and arrange for her to get the care, support and rehabilitation she needed.

For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors

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