Prolapsed Disc Victim Succeeds in Clinical Negligence Claim


There is nothing more satisfying for a clinical negligence lawyer than obtaining just compensation for a seriously disabled client. The point was made by the case of a woman who for years needlessly suffered the agonising pain of an undiagnosed prolapsed disc, which eventually rendered her paraplegic.

The woman had for some time suffered from a degenerative back condition arising from a fall on her patio. Subsequently, however, she developed a different spinal problem in the form of a prolapsed disc. The excruciating pain she endured rendered her all but housebound.

She underwent surgery in 2017, but by then it was too late to save her from partial paraplegia below the waist. She launched proceedings against the NHS trust that bore responsibility for her care, alleging that earlier diagnosis and surgical treatment would have led to a much better outcome.

Upholding her claim, the High Court found that the prolapsed disc was symptomatic when she was seen by a pain management consultant in 2009. He breached the duty of care he owed her in failing to order an updated MRI scan or conduct a full neurological examination. At a further consultation the following year, he failed to examine her or take an adequate history. In giving her advice regarding the possibility of surgery, he also exceeded his remit.

Had her condition been diagnosed at that stage, she would have elected to undergo surgery. Had that happened, she would have made a full neurological recovery from the prolapsed disc, although she would have continued to suffer pain and disability arising from her pre-existing back condition. If not agreed, the amount of her compensation would be assessed at a further hearing.

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