An epidural abscess is a type of infection. This is a serious health condition that can result in death or serious injury when not properly diagnosed and treated.
At Harris Lowry Manton, we work with clients who have struggled with long-term injuries and loss due to the negligence of doctors who fail to provide appropriate care, including missed diagnoses of conditions like this. If you have suffered the consequences of an epidural abscess, contact our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers for an immediate consultation.
How a spinal epidural abscess is diagnosed
If you present with certain symptoms – back pain is the most common, along with infection symptoms like a fever – then your doctor should run tests to determine whether you have a spinal epidural abscess. According to Merck Manual, diagnosis requires an MRI. If an MRI isn’t possible, doctors may order an imaging scan called a myelogram (myelography), followed by CT scan.
If a doctor fails to take these steps when there is a clear indication of a problem, that can lead to a condition being undiagnosed for too long, risking exacerbation of associated complications.
Complications from an spinal epidural abscess
When a missed diagnosis occurs, a person may develop increasingly worsening symptoms. Though those symptoms will range widely in each patient, they may include any of the following spinal epidural abscess complications:
- Permanent or temporary paralysis in any area;
- Changes to cognitive function;
- Muscle weakness and numbness;
- Permanent nerve damage;
- Pressure sore development;
- Infections that could lead to sepsis or widespread organ failure;
- Recurring urinary tract infections;
- Declines in motor functions;
- Depression and changes to mental health and cognitive function; and
Understanding long-term losses when undiagnosed conditions worsen
Recognizing the risks of an undiagnosed condition like this is critical. Oftentimes, when a person receives proper treatment for an epidural abscess, they can see significant improvement. This typically involves the use of antibiotics to treat the infection that is causing the abscess. In some situations, this could be all that is necessary.
If the condition has worsened, this may require that a surgeon drain some of the fluid from the abscess using a needle. In doing so, that provides pressure relief and may ease some of the symptoms. Other times, it is necessary to surgically remove the actual abscess, especially where there are risks of paralysis.
The sooner a person receives this type of care, the less invasive treatment may be. This is why early diagnosis of the condition is so critical.
When the condition is not treated quickly enough, complications can occur. This may include, for example, meningitis or the infection spreading to other areas. The infection can move into the spine and skull bones. Over time, it can also spread into the spinal cord itself, which leads to permanent paralysis. Many people may experience long-term back pain from this condition as well.
The key to remember is that infection travels in the body. As it enters into the bloodstream, it can move to any area of the body, increasing the risk of serious illness. It can also trigger a potentially life-threatening inflammatory response called sepsis. If the infection attacks the brain, it can create irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system. This can lead to permanent paralysis, making walking and functioning impossible.
As the condition worsens even further, often due to lack of early intervention, this can lead to the nervous system being attacked, ultimately leading to death. It can be very difficult for doctors to restore normal nervous system function at this point. This is why so many people die as a result of an undiagnosed spinal epidural abscess.
How our Atlanta medical negligence attorneys can help people with undiagnosed abscesses
If you have had a spinal epidural abscess, and that condition was not diagnosed right away, you may have had numerous treatments necessary for your worsening condition. This may have included:
- Emergency medical care;
- Medications for the treatment of the infection;
- Hospital stays;
- Rehabilitation for loss of mobility for a short period of time; and
- Support for ongoing rehabilitation as needed.
For some people, it may have resulted in death, and that means that the immediate family members may be able to seek compensation for their losses.
If you have suffered from these types of complications because a doctor failed to diagnose your condition, we strongly encourage you to reach out to our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys for immediate help. While you should pursue the most advanced care possible, it is also critical to understand what your losses are moving forward – including how this condition will affect your ability to work, maintain relationships, engage in activities you enjoy, and live your life.
If you suspect that your doctor failed to diagnose this condition soon enough and you had symptoms of a spinal epidural abscess that should have been a key reason to pursue additional testing, reach out to our medical malpractice team. We will work closely with you to ensure that you understand all of your options and that you get comprehensive legal support throughout this matter.
At Harris Lowry Manton, our medical malpractice attorneys in Atlanta and Savannah provide comprehensive legal support to clients. Let us fight for you, too. Call us now or submit our contact form for a free consultation to discuss your case. Proudly serving clients throughout Georgia.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.