Medical Negligence

Lawyer Q&A: To A&E and beyond!

September 08, 2017

John Gomersall, Head of Medical Negligence at Burroughs Day Solicitors, talks about some of his recent work and explains ‘what does a medical negligence lawyer actually do?’

One of my favourite movies of all time is Toy Story. Those of you who have not seen the film would be forgiven for thinking that it was exclusively for children. However nothing could be further from the truth.

One would also be forgiven for wondering what on earth Toy Story has to do with being a medical negligence solicitor. Well, not very much, except for the fact that within the first 30 minutes of the film one of the main characters, Buzz Lightyear, is asked about his job by one of the other toys (Rex the dinosaur if you’re interested): “What does a Space Ranger actually do?”

I am frequently asked “What do you actually do? Is it all about dealing with missed fractures?” Well no, not exactly. The type of medical negligence cases Burroughs Day has successfully assisted its clients with over the years varies enormously. Yes, the failure to diagnose and treat bone fractures certainly forms a part of this, but there’s also a wide range of less well known medical conditions and problems which have affected our clients, where we have recovered significant compensation on our clients’ behalf as a result of negligent medical treatment.

These include:

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) 

CES is caused by the compression (most commonly by a slipped disc) of the nerve roots near the bottom of the spinal cord (the cauda equina). Whilst it is, unfortunately, a condition that is not well known even amongst the medical community (though it ought to be) it is a surgical emergency due to the fact that these nerve roots provide motor and sensory function to the lower limbs as well as pelvic and sexual organs.

CES symptoms include pain down the backs of both legs below the knee; difficulty in emptying one’s bladder and numbness between the legs.

Decompression of the spine is urgent where such symptoms are being displayed. If this is not done before the patient loses bladder control completely, then in all likelihood it will be too late for the surgery to be effective and the patient will be left with permanent incontinence (amongst other symptoms).

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

As the name suggests, this is a long term problem where the patient’s kidneys are not working properly. Over time the problem can worsen to such an extent that kidney dialysis and/or transplant is necessary.

There are several known causes of CKD, with high blood pressure and a poor lifestyle being two of them. There are several stages of CKD ranging from stage 1 to stage 5 (otherwise known as End Stage Kidney Disease). However, by the time CKD stage 4 is reached, End Stage Kidney Disease is inevitable. 

A failure to diagnose CKD at an early stage can have a devastating impact on someone’s health and well-being.

Pressure sores (aka bed sores or pressure ulcers)

These may not sound particularly serious but do not be fooled as they can be extremely painful and debilitating.

In the context of a medical negligence claim, pressure sores are most commonly caused in hospitals when already vulnerable patients (eg. the elderly) do not receive the nursing care they ought to.

Pressure sores are caused as a result of unrelieved pressure to skin tissue, and certain areas of the body are more vulnerable than others – for example the buttocks, hips, heels, elbows and the back of the head.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but in the most severe cases pressure sores can go down to the bone.

If you or a loved one hasn’t received the care you deserve, or you think you have a claim and you’d like to discuss your options, get in touch with me and my expert team - call 0117 930 8434 or email

Until next time…... To A&E and beyond!

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