Fever and back pain are often symptoms of spinal epidural abscess, a rare but treatable ailment. But too often doctors miss the signs and fail to administer treatment until it is too late and patients suffer life-long debilitating injuries or death.
Early diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess is critical, yet many physicians and hospitals do not test for the presence of an infection that generally can be cured with a surgical procedure and antibiotics or sometimes with antibiotics alone. One study noted the rate of fatality in cases of late or missed diagnoses is almost one in seven patients.
In such cases, patients and their families could have legal recourse. Kline & Specter, PC, a Philadelphia-based law firm, has successfully resolved or is currently litigating more than a dozen spinal epidural abscess cases. The firm, with more than 40 attorneys, several of whom are also highly skilled doctors, has the experience and expertise to litigate spinal abscess lawsuits.
In one case handled by the firm, a $3 million settlement was reached for a 25-year-old man who went to a Pennsylvania hospital with severe back pain but was sent home with a prescription for pain killer and muscle relaxants. A week later, suffering seizures and loss of bladder control, he was admitted to the hospital and treated for spinal abscess. But the delay in diagnosis and treatment resulted in permanent neurologic injury that left him unable to walk independently or fully use his upper extremities.
The firm obtained substantial confidential settlements in two other cases in which delayed diagnoses of spinal abscess resulted in partial paralysis of patients, one involving a delay in treatment for several days despite consistent symptoms while the other case involved a misreading of radiological studies.
In many cases of spinal abscess, in which bacteria lodges in the spine, patients are diagnosed with common back pain, given pain medication and sent home. By the time they return to a doctor or hospital, the symptoms often have become more severe and treatment is too late. The result is permanent damage or death.
Spinal epidural abscess is most common among patients in their 60s and 70s but can affect patients of all ages. Often doctors fail to test for the condition because it is very rare, but experts say the devastating nature of the illness is the very reason they should test for spinal abscess. Also, close attention to the symptoms plus a patient’s history can provide a clear indication that testing should be performed.
“Spinal epidural abscess is a rare but potentially destructive condition. When recognized and treated early, the outcome is excellent. Late diagnosis or inadequate treatment may leave the patient with long-term severe or disabling incapacity,” noted an article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Spinal abscesses can be caused by infections originating in other parts of the body such as the sinuses, urine or even a skin laceration.
SYMPTOMS OF SPINAL EPIDURAL ABSCESS: Fever, back pain, a change in neurological condition such as weakness or numbness of the legs, difficulty urinating, urinary and fecal incontinence. Jaundice, weight loss and confusion also can be signs of some forms of spinal abscess.
Call today to speak with an experienced spinal abscess lawyer. 800-243-1100.