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Settlement of spinal surgery case

Spinal injury claims specialist Henry Dyson settles unusual spinal injury case

Cervical vertebrae photo: istock

14 May 2012

We are pleased to report the settlement of an unusual spinal injury case. 

Our client is a young woman who lives in Israel and worked in London at the time of these events.  In 2002 she began to suffer from neurological symptoms in her arms and legs and she was admitted to The Royal Free Hospital in London. 

Investigations revealed that her spine was very unstable high in her neck and her spinal cord had, over many years, become very thin.  The expert neurosurgeon acting as an expert witness for the claimant commented that it was the thinnest spinal cord that he had ever seen.  Plans were made at The Royal Free Hospital to operate to stabilise her spine.  The operation was carried out but unfortunately our client awoke from her surgery as a tetraplegic.  She has some recovery but sadly she is now disabled and a wheelchair user with a high care need. 

Our criticisms were that there had been a failure to appreciate the precarious nature of our client’s spinal cord so that unusual steps ought to have been taken before and during her surgery to decrease the risks of further damage to the cord.  In particular, it was alleged that our client should have been turned onto the operating table before induction of anaesthesia and that spinal cord monitoring of impulses within the cord ought to have been used.  We argued that either technique would have preserved her function.  Although the defendant denied liability, settlement terms were agreed at a round table meeting shortly before the planned trial. 

The solicitors representing the claimant were partner Henry Dyson and solicitor Ellen Parry of the clinical negligence department.

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