Failure to Diagnose Spinal Epidural Abscess Lawyers

Failure to Diagnose Spinal Epidural Abscess Lawyers

Epidurals are most commonly used during childbirth, but their usage extends far beyond just providing pain relief for pregnancies.  There is a serious risk to patients who undergo this procedure, and between 2007 to 2011 there were over 28 claims related to spinal epidural abscesses (SEAs) that resulted in millions of dollars being paid out through lawsuits.

The epidural itself is the outermost part of the spinal canal, and it contains fatty tissues, arteries, lymphatics, connective tissue as well as spinal nerve roots.  Spinal epidural abscesses occur when physicians improperly administer a spinal epidural, which leaves the patient open to developing an infection, or abscess, within their epidural.  

This is most commonly an excess collection of pus within the spinal cord, and the medical damages and health risks from not identifying and diagnosing this type of issue are extremely costly.

Early Diagnosis By A Physician is Crucial For Patients Suffering from SEA

The early diagnosis of an SEA is vital for the recovery of the patient.  Studies have shown that while a SEA is an uncommon condition – if patients are not diagnosed and seeking treatment within 36 hours of developing the disease, they are at an increased risk of developing paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and even death.

Generally, proper diagnostics include running an MRI or Myelography followed by a CT scan in the event the hospital or doctor’s office does not have the required equipment.

Taking the symptoms of a potential SEA seriously, and providing the proper diagnosis is crucial in preventing unneeded injury to patients.  

What Are The Symptoms of a Spinal Epidural Abscess

One of the most common symptoms of an SEA is acute back pain not caused by injury (atraumatic), and this is a symptom that will increase in severity as the infection progresses.  Often patients report worse symptoms when lying down.

In addition to back pain, other symptoms include:

  • A sudden and severe onset of pain
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowel function
  • Paralysis below the area of the abscess
  • Rapidly progressing weakness
  • Fever
  • Loss of sensation around the abscess area

Spinal Epidural Abscesses are Commonly Misdiagnosed 

The damage and health risks from a misdiagnosed SEA are incredible and as MD John Nelson describes they cause a huge liability for the doctors and hospitals involved.  As John states below, this is a very “sneaky” illness and very easy to confuse:

   “Delays in diagnosis of SEA are common. It can be a very sneaky illness that in the early stages is very easy to confuse with less-serious causes of back pain or fever. […] I had a patient who reported an increase in his usual back pain. I felt reassured that he had no neurologic deficit or fever […] He had a significant SEA and went to emergency surgery. I was stunned.”

The difficulty in properly diagnosing SEAs is what led them to be one of the most high-liability illnesses that hospitals are dealing with today.  The health risks from a misdiagnosis are so damaging, that indemnity payouts for SEAs on average are more than double compared to other misdiagnosis related lawsuits.

What Do I Do If I Or A Loved One Has Suffered From An SEA?

With over 30 years of experience in personal injury law, McEldrew Young Purtell has the knowledge and expertise to fully evaluate your situation and defend your legal interests. 

Spinal Epidural Abscesses can be devastating to a person’s career and livelihood, and if you suspect you or a loved one developed this condition due to the negligence and misdiagnosis of a physician or doctor, we can help you get justice for your injuries.

To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.