A report published in January 2019 by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme, has called for Hospital Trusts to review spinal surgery practices in a bid to reduce situations where patients are left with long term disabilities.
GIRFT is a national programme, developed by Professor Tom Brigg, Consultant Surgeon, under NHS Improvement, designed to improve medical care within the NHS by reducing inconsistencies in the way services are delivered.
The report found that in a national audit “23% of litigation claims for spinal surgery in England relate to Cauda Equina Syndrome …….this is unacceptable.”
Cauda Equina Syndrome requires urgent specialist assessment and intervention. If the condition is not treated and managed within an efficient time frame, a patient can be left with life changing disabilities. A delay in arranging MRI scans for patients suffering from suspected spinal emergency conditions such as Cauda Equina Syndrome can lead to paralysis, bowel and bladder incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
There are severe consequences of a delay in diagnosing and treating Cauda Equina Syndrome – therefore the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) and the British Association of Spine Surgeons (BASS) have developed standards of care for patients suffering with Cauda Equina Syndrome symptoms. The main recommendations include access to emergency MRI scanning facilities – this scan helps to determine whether a patient requires emergency surgery.
The evidence suggests one of the reasons why a patient may not receive an emergency MRI scan is due to the unavailability of a radiographer to operate the scanner. The GIRFT report has recommended that immediate action is taken to ensure alignment with SBNS/BASS guidance and for interim solutions to be provided when individual Trusts are unable to arrange out of hours MRI scans.
The report states that “nothing is to be gained by delaying surgery and (this) should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity”. Further, there should be clear documentation stating any reasons for delay.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence claims and have a wealth of experience in advising clients who have suffered a delay in diagnosing and treating Cauda Equina Syndrome. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456, so that we can discuss your concerns.