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Case Study

Damages for injuries due to delayed diagnosis of spinal tumour

Sarah's claim concerned delays in the diagnosis of a non-malignant tumour in her spine. Following the onset of back pain and burning sensations in her feet and lower legs, Sarah saw a rheumatologist who performed a spinal x-ray in October 2002 revealing the presence of a spinal tumour.

Sarah's hospital failed to advise her of the x-ray results and failed to arrange for urgent MRI scanning. There was a delay of about 8 months before the MRI scan and referral to a neurosurgeon were eventually made.

By the time of the delayed operation, the tumour had invaded the nerves around the base of the spine and as a result, even after the surgery, Sarah was left with an incomplete cauda equina syndrome which severely limits her mobility and affects her bowel and bladder function.

We were instructed in place of other solicitors who had advised against taking the case any further. 

Specialist reports were obtained in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery and neuroradiology. These confirmed that the poor outcome would have been avoided with earlier surgery. 

Indeed, Sarah probably would not have needed a wheelchair for mobility.

In the legal proceedings, the hospital admitted errors for the delayed MRI scan and neurosurgical referral but contended that due to her age, the size and spread of the tumour that such delay did not make any difference to the outcome.

The case was listed for trial in April 2008.  A few months before the trial, Sarah accepted the defendant’s offer of £400,000 damages together with her legal costs in settlement.

The case was initially privately funded and then conducted on a no win no fee basis.

After the case Sarah said:

"A number of firms of solicitors that we approached told us it was a hopeless case and refused to help. Thankfully we found Richard Earle who was willing to 'have a go'.

"We are so grateful for his dedication and perseverance which, against the odds, brought us the settlement we felt we deserved."

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