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When Spinal Cord Injury or Associated Conditions are Caused by Negligent Medical Treatment

Posted on May 10th 2023

Every four hours someone is paralysed by a spinal cord injury in the UK. Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is observed annually on May 14th to raise the profile of people with spinal cord injuries in the UK and educate the public on its impact, effect, and treatment.

What is a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal column is damaged and bony vertebrae compress or bruise the spinal cord which can sever axons and damage neurons in the spine. In doing so, communication between the brain and the body can become blocked. Injuries are commonly caused by external factors such as falls or road traffic accidents and are medically classified as complete or incomplete, depending upon the extent of the blockage.

A spinal cord injury can reduce a person’s ability to move and feel things below the level where the injury to the spinal cord occurred. There are also many other secondary conditions which can be associated with a spinal cord injury, including deep vein thrombosis and pressure ulcers, so what happens when such conditions are caused by negligent medical treatment?

When conditions associated with spinal cord injury are caused by negligent medical treatment – a case study

Our Client was paralysed after suffering a spinal cord injury and broken back when they had a nasty fall down a flight of stairs. Due to the injuries sustained our Client was hospitalised and required significant treatment, including the requirement to remain lying flat in bed in hospital throughout their treatment.

Unfortunately, our Client developed a Category 3 pressure ulcer to their right sacrum and deep tissue injuries to the back of both of their thighs and left heel. Sadly, these pressure ulcers were only discovered when they were transferred to a different hospital.

As a result of the ulcers which had developed our Client required a further 6 weeks of bed rest and debridement surgery, delaying their spinal cord injury rehabilitation treatment.

We reviewed our Client’s medical records and performed an in-depth investigation into their care. We instructed an independent nursing expert and Consultant Neurosurgeon to comment on the level of care our Client received. Both were supportive of the claim.

We alleged that our Client was not provided with the correct mattress (which would have reduced the likelihood of the development of pressure ulcers); was not adequately repositioned in sufficient time to prevent pressure ulcers and was left lying for hours without movement; and the Defendant had failed to heed the development of pressure sores and commence suitable and timely action to prevent their further deterioration.

The Defendant denied all liability and so we progressed and commenced our Client’s claim at Court, before settlement negotiations were eventually commenced and we achieved a settlement of £45,000 for our Client.

What can you do to support Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day?

Support for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day can be shown by:

  • Donating to spinal cord injury charities such as Back Up, The Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire or Spinal Research to support their efforts in providing vital research and rehabilitation support to those suffering with a spinal cord injury
  • Liking, posting and sharing material on prevention, rehabilitation and research of spinal cord injuries
  • Leave a gift in your Will to Back Up, The Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire and/or Spinal Research

How can we help if you feel you have suffered any form of medical negligence, including a spinal cord injury?

If you feel you have suffered any form of medical negligence, including a spinal cord injury or conditions associated with spinal cord  injury, please contact our team and we will be able to give you free initial advice as to whether you have a claim.

Cases that we can help you with include:

  • Development of pressure ulcers
  • Delayed diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome
  • Avoidable nerve damage
  • Surgical errors leading to an avoidable spinal cord injury

Call and speak to a member of our team on 01244 312306