Delay in removing clot from the spinal cord resulted in permanent disabilities
Posted in News on Thursday, May 5th, 2022
Pat Daly, Ernest Cantillon and ably assisted by Suzanne Buckley of the Medical Negligence Team at Cantillons Solicitors were delighted to settle this case on behalf of this most deserving gentleman.
In 2014, our Client was mountain biking in Co. Cork. He was traveling downhill on a designated cycle route when the bike skidded (for no apparent reason) and he was thrown over the handlebars. Our Client hit his head on the ground (he was wearing a helmet) and he was winded. Initially, there were no apparent injuries. However, our Client was on anticoagulants (blood thinners) and he developed neurological signs and symptoms which got progressively worse. On arrival at Cork University Hospital (“CUH”), our Client was already paraplegic with significant motor and sensory deficits. However, rather shockingly, CUH in 2014 did not have 24/7 MRI facilities and in particular no, or at least limited, MRI access on Sundays. Although CT scanning facilities were available and identified a subarachnoid haematoma (clot in the brain which did not require surgery), the CT spine did not assist in establishing if our Client’s spine was stable but did identify a potential bleed in the spinal canal. The Client’s paralysis increased whilst in CUH and arrangements were made for his transfer to the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Dublin (“the Mater”) by road ambulance (a distance of 164 miles). On arrival in the Mater Hospital, our Client’s paralysis had further increased. An MRI identified a clot which was causing compression on the delicate spinal cord which required urgent evacuation to relieve the pressure. Indeed, the Radiologist classified the findings as “Code: Red”. Immediate arrangements were made for emergency surgery and the clot was evacuated. Post-operatively, our Client was noted to have wriggled his toes. Thereafter, he underwent an extensive rehabilitation process to include an inpatient stay at the National Rehabilitation Hospital NRH where he learned to walk with two crutches, then with one crutch, graduating to two sticks and then one stick. In September 2016, our Client walked unaided. Unfortunately, he has extensive residual permanent disabilities which have impacted on his social, domestic and industrial life. However, our Client is a resilient, determined man and he re-entered the employment market and although incapacitated, he has set about rebuilding his life. We argued that the failure to have MRI facilities in CUH delayed the emergency surgical intervention by approximately double the length of time that it would have been if MRI imaging and surgery had been undertaken on a timely basis. Our Client would have been neurologically normal or, at worst, left with minor non-disabling deficits such as minor sensory losses.
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