Negligent failure by GP and hospital to diagnose and treat a spinal abscess leading to spinal cord injury

Following a flu-like illness patient X developed pain in the middle of her back extending to her right shoulder blade. She attended the Accident & Emergency Department of her local hospital by ambulance where she was diagnosed as suffering from a chest infection, given antibiotics and discharged.

The patient continued to experience significant symptoms for which she was reviewed by her General Practitioner (a trainee General Practitioner under the supervision of an experienced GP trainer) through the following few days. 16 days following her Accident & Emergency attendance there was a further deterioration in her condition with the result that she was again taken by ambulance to hospital from where she was once more discharged.

In the hours following her discharge the patient developed paralysis from the chest down and incontinence of urine. She was returned by ambulance to the hospital where she was transferred as an emergency to the local neurosurgical centre. The patient was diagnosed as having a cervical abscess at C6/7 and underwent emergency surgery early the following day.

The patient required significant rehabilitation at a specialist spinal unit but was left with significant disabilities.

The claim was very hard fought by both the General Practitioner and the hospital and went to a trial on the preliminary issue that related to limitation. The claim was settled at a settlement meeting following the preliminary issue with a seven-figure substantial settlement for the Claimant

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