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Surgeon was not negligent in the treatment of Cauda Equina Syndrome

By: James Cross BL

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High Court dismisses claim for damages for a surgeon’s alleged medical negligence arising from his alleged failure to diagnose the plaintiff with Cauda Equina Syndrome and alleged delay in treating the Plaintiff for Cauda Equina Syndrome, on the grounds that: the surgeon cannot be faulted for his interpretation of the MRI scan; the decision not to operate until deterioration of neurological signs was not negligent; and the surgery was carried out at the first reasonable opportunity after the deterioration of the neurological signs.

Medical negligence – personal injuries - complications following surgery – two radically different interpretations of the events by the plaintiff’s and defendants’ expert witnesses – very successful butcher and businessman – significant past medical history - defendant advised that the plaintiff was a candidate for revision, decompression at L5/S1 and posterior fusion in order to reduce back pain - given an 80% chance that symptoms would improve with a 20% chance that they would either stay the same or dis-improve – number of surgeries - alleges that he developed a Cauda Equina Syndrome – alleges that there was a delay in addressing his injuries - law in relation to liability in medical negligence – post operation history – developments post surgery - condition is permanent - plaintiff’s case - expert evidence – findings of fact – plaintiff does suffer from Cauda Equina Syndrome – surgeon cannot be faulted for his interpretation of the MRI scan - developing Cauda Equina Syndrome and its signs on the scan was a marginal thing and its existence was, at that time, and indeed still is, open to significant expert debate – deterioration of neurological signs and plaintiff was marked for surgery - decision not to operate until deterioration of neurological signs was not negligent – surgery carried out as soon as possible thereafter - no negligence on the part of the surgeon – case dismissed.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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