Claimant (DOB: 05.04.66) presented to the Second Defendant GP on 08.10.02 with pins and needles and numbness in the fingertips when sneezing or coughing. A cervical spine x-ray was arranged which did not reveal any abnormalities and confirmed normal disc spaces.
First Defendant GP saw Claimant on 25.10.02 when she was still complaining of persisting symptoms and referral to the Third Defendant Hospital Trust’s orthopaedic team was made. A request to expedite the appointment was made by the Second Defendant on 03.12.02 due to deterioration in the Claimant’s condition.
Claimant was seen on 07.02.03 by Trust’s orthopaedic surgeon who queried a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome and referred the Claimant for urgent EMG studies. EMG/nerve conduction studies were performed on 07.03.03. There were no positive findings in connection with a peripheral neuropathy, but the Claimant was noted to have marked upper motor neurone signs bilaterally. The Claimant was seen by another orthopaedic surgeon at the Trust on 04.04.03 and was referred to a consultant neurologist for further assessment as soon as possible on 08.04.03.
Claimant was seen by consultant neurologist on 02.07.03 and an MRI scan was subsequently arranged. The MRI scan showed a cervical disc prolapse at the C5/6 level with compression of the spinal cord and signal change within the cord. The Claimant subsequently underwent a cervical discectomy and fusion surgery at the Trust on 23.07.03.
Claimant suffers symptoms of urinary incontinence, clawed hands and impaired mobility. She has significant mobility problems due to weakness and discomfort in both the lower and upper limbs and spasticity in the lower limbs. Although Claimant is ambulant with two elbow crutches and largely self caring she argued she would eventually require a wheelchair in about 10 years due to a deterioration of function. Claimant alleged negligence in wrongly diagnosing carpel tunnel syndrome and failing to make a referral to a neurologist urgently. Trust disputed liability arguing even if an urgent referral had been made, an earlier operation would have made no difference to her functional outcome.
Out of court settlement: £1million (General Damages £50,000), representing 50% of the realistic value based on litigation risk.
Kennedys represented the Defendant Trust.