Who Is Liable For The Delay In Treating My Spinal Epidural Abscess?


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The potential outcomes of undiagnosed and untreated spinal epidural abscess are devastating. Disability, permanent injury, paralysis, and death can result from this severe infection. While a spinal epidural abscess is rare, it requires early detection and quick treatment to prevent life-changing, catastrophic damage.

Sadly, many people who have common symptoms of the condition don’t receive the right diagnosis from doctors, or they only get diagnosed once the infection has progressed too far for treatment to prevent serious consequences. It may be a case of medical negligence or malpractice when a spinal epidural abscess isn’t detected, diagnosed, and treated promptly or when the infection is allowed to develop following spinal surgery.

What Is A Spinal Epidural Abscess?

An abscess is a pocket that develops in body tissues containing bacteria or fungus, typically due to an underlying infection. A spinal epidural abscess occurs when the abscess is within the spine. It can develop from infections elsewhere in the body, such as urinary tract infections. Additionally, a spinal epidural abscess can happen after back surgery when medical professionals don’t monitor the patient adequately for possible infections.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Spinal Epidural Abscess?

The most common symptom of a spinal epidural abscess is back pain that radiates outwards from the site of the abscess. While this is typically the major symptom that leads patients to seek help from doctors, there are some other signs that a spinal epidural abscess is present, including:

  • Body chills
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Trouble walking
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence

What Are The Risk Factors For A Spinal Epidural Abscess?

Several risk factors may make an individual more likely to develop a spinal epidural abscess. Those factors may include:

  • A boil, especially on the scalp or back
  • Recent back surgery or other invasive procedure that involves the spine
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis – a spinal bone infection
  • Infection in the blood
  • Spinal trauma
  • Immunodeficiency

What Happens If A Spinal Abscess Is Not Treated Promptly?

The quicker a spinal epidural abscess is caught and treated, the better the outlook is for the patient’s recovery. Prompt and effective treatment for the condition can help prevent the infection from worsening and spreading to other parts of the body. It also helps ease the symptoms. When properly treated, patients with a spinal epidural abscess usually regain their ability to function and move normally. Some patients do have lingering neurological issues that require rehabilitative therapy.

When left untreated, a spinal epidural abscess can lead to widespread infections, and other serious complications, including:

  • Abscess of the spinal cord
  • Long-term back pain
  • Infection inside the spine or skill bones
  • Meningitis
  • Irreversible brain damage and nervous system injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Once there is damage to the nervous system, restoring the nervous system to normal functioning can be extremely difficult. An undiagnosed and untreated spinal epidural abscess can be seriously dangerous.

How Should A Spinal Epidural Abscess Treated?

When a doctor promptly diagnoses spinal epidural abscess, the subsequent treatment usually includes surgery and antibiotics. A patient’s treatment may only be antibiotics in some less serious cases. They may be given for an extended period of time, four to six weeks, to ensure the infection clears up.

In cases where the abscess is creating pressure on the spinal cord, surgery to perform surgical decompression is often required. This procedure will help remove pressure and prevent permanent damage to the central nervous system. In addition, with serious spinal infections, a surgery called a laminectomy is performed. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the bone that covers the spinal canal (the lamina).

Do I Need A Lawyer For A Spinal Abscess Malpractice Lawsuit In Pennsylvania?

If a physician fails to recognize a spinal epidural abscess, or if there is a misdiagnosis, it may be cause for filing a medical malpractice claim. Delaying treatment for this condition can lead to permanent paralysis or even death. Medical malpractice lawsuits hold healthcare providers accountable for injuries to a patient by medical mistakes or negligence.

Medical malpractice cases are usually complicated. They require a high level of legal and medical expertise to understand and litigate. The highly experienced attorneys and medical doctors that make up the legal team at Ross Feller Casey have an unmatched track record of achieving large and, in many cases, multimillion-dollar recoveries for our clients. We may be able to help you, too.

Call to schedule a meeting with one of our skilled attorneys to see if you have a spinal injury case. Our initial consultations are free, and we handle all our cases on a contingency basis. You will never have to pay until there is a recovery in your case.

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