Spinal Epidural Abscess Injuries
Permanent injury, disability, paralysis, and death: these are potential outcomes of an undiagnosed and untreated spinal epidural abscess. This severe and debilitating infection, while relatively rare, requires early detection and prompt management to avoid catastrophic and life-changing damage.
Unfortunately, many patients with common symptoms of the condition fail to receive a correct diagnosis from their physician or get diagnosed only after the infection has progressed past the point where treatment can spare them from the worst consequences. Such failures to detect, diagnose, and treat a spinal epidural abscess – or to allow one to develop after a surgical procedure on the spine – can form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Maine’s Leading Malpractice Lawyers for Spinal Epidural Abscess Injuries
At Berman & Simmons, Maine’s premier medical malpractice law firm, we work with individuals and families who have suffered unfathomable injury, pain, and loss due to the negligence of physicians and other health care providers who fail to diagnose and treat a spinal epidural abscess properly. Our record of success in medical malpractice cases stands head and shoulders above any law firm in New England, with over $1.35 billion in compensation obtained for our clients.
What Is a Spinal Epidural Abscess?
An abscess is a pocket of bacteria or fungus – pus – that can develop in the body’s tissues, usually due to an underlying infection. A spinal epidural abscess occurs within the spine and can result from other infections elsewhere in the body, particularly urinary tract infections. A spinal epidural abscess can also develop after back surgery if health care providers do not adequately monitor the patient for infection.
The dangers of a spinal epidural abscess are due to the infected area’s compression of the spinal cord and spinal roots, as well as its interference with arterial blood supply, all of which can cause motor dysfunction and, ultimately, paralysis and death.
What Are the Signs of a Spinal Epidural Abscess?
Back pain, which can radiate outwards from the abscess site, is the most common symptom of a spinal epidural abscess and most often leads a patient to seek professional evaluation and treatment. Other signs that a patient may have an abscess include:
- Fever caused by fighting the infection.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Difficulty walking.
Risk Factors for Spinal Epidural Abscess
The risk of developing a spinal epidural abscess is higher for individuals who have or had:
- Recent back surgery or an invasive procedure involving the spine.
- An infection in the blood.
- A boil, especially on the back or scalp.
- Bone infections of the spine (vertebral osteomyelitis).
- Spinal trauma.
Spinal Epidural Abscess Injuries and Medical Malpractice
As one scientific study of spinal epidural abscesses noted, “The most important prognostic factor for a favorable outcome is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.” Often, however, physicians who evaluate a patient with signs of a spinal abscess such as back pain and fever fail to consider the condition or do not order the appropriate laboratory screens or critical diagnostic tests like an MRI and blood cultures, which could confirm the presence of an abscess. Even though a spinal epidural abscess is a medical emergency, to save money, tragically, some hospitals do not perform MRIs at every spinal level – taking a stage approach – which can delay diagnosis hours or even days.
When found early, most spinal epidural abscesses can be effectively treated with antibiotics, though some may require surgery. However, failing to diagnose a spinal epidural abscess can allow the infection to progress to the point where effective treatment is no longer possible, and permanent injury or death are likely outcomes. This negligent failure to diagnose the condition can be an act of medical malpractice that could lead to the recovery of damages.
In addition to missed and delayed diagnoses, the failure to monitor a patient for signs of infection after back surgery – and after outpatient procedures, in particular – may constitute medical negligence.
Damages Recoverable for Spinal Epidural Injuries Caused by Medical Negligence
As noted, an untreated spinal epidural abscess can cause life-altering, permanent injuries and is often fatal. The practical, economic, emotional, and psychological challenges that follow can overwhelm victims and their families. Permanent paralysis and disability mean life will never be the same, and the loss of a loved one leaves families struggling to move forward and searching for answers about how such a tragedy occurred.
Damages recoverable for spinal abscess injuries or death caused by medical negligence include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages and loss of future earning potential.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of quality of life.
- The costs of ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, medical equipment, or modifications to the home necessitated by the injury.
How Berman & Simmons Can Help
Medicine is complicated. So is the law. Determining whether an act of medical malpractice occurred and obtaining compensation for injuries requires an in-depth understanding of both. At Berman & Simmons, our attorneys combine their legal talents with extensive medical knowledge and work closely with the world’s leading and most highly credentialed medical experts to get our clients the maximum amount of compensation available.
We understand the struggles that victims of medical malpractice face, including those who suffer preventable spinal epidural abscess injuries. When you speak with us at your free initial consultation, we will carefully and patiently listen to your story as part of our comprehensive effort to understand what happened. We will then bring our extensive experience and unmatched resources on your behalf, developing solutions that can make your life better, including obtaining payment for or deferral of your debts until we resolve your case.
Please contact Berman & Simmons today at 866-664-2403 to arrange your free consultation. You pay nothing unless we obtain compensation for you by settlement or jury verdict. Our Maine medical malpractice lawyers are ready to help you through this difficult time so you can recover and rebuild your life.
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For your first meeting with us, simply tell us your story and explain in your own words what happened and how your life has been affected. If you’re meeting with us in person, you can bring notes about what happened to you, driver insurance information, names of any witnesses, photos of the accident damages or injuries, medical records, and other related paperwork if you have it and if it’s applicable, but that information isn’t necessary. Really all you need to do is be yourself, speak with us honestly, and be willing to tackle your problems with us.
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To pursue a case, we will need to prove that you suffered a substantial personal injury and the injury was directly caused by the negligence of another party. A bad result alone is not enough to establish negligence. We let you know upfront if we are able to move forward with the legal process, or if we don’t think you have a case. Generally, we will know if you have a case after our first phone call or meeting.
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How long will it take to resolve my case?
Every case is different, and there is no way to predict how long it will take for your case to be resolved. Some cases end in a matter of months, while the most complex and challenging cases, such as a medical malpractice case, can span several years. The vast majority of cases, however, are resolved before a trial and usually within a year.
The goal is to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, no matter how long it takes whether that comes in the form of a pre-trial settlement, or with a jury verdict in your favor.
How much is my case worth?
There are many factors that need to be considered when determining the value of your case. Every case is unique and it takes a team effort — including your attorney, staff researchers, and outside experts — to determine the extent of your damages and how much your case is worth. There are two types of damages for which you could receive
compensation: Economic and non-economic.
If your case goes to trial and a jury agrees you deserve compensation, the jury members will decide how much the money you should receive for each category of damages.