The misdiagnosis of a spinal cord abscess could result in serious injury or death, which is why the failure to diagnose this condition may warrant a medical malpractice claim.
What Exactly Is a Spinal Cord Abscess?
Spinal cord abscesses (SCAs) are a type of infection that can develop in the spinal cord. Also known as an epidural abscess, an SCA could become fatal without treatment. SCAs are rare, which is why physicians may not properly diagnose this condition, leading to potential long-term debilitating injuries or wrongful death in some cases.
SCAs occur when the area between the spinal cord lining and the spine develops an infection. The abscess consists of a collection of pus, which can culminate in swelling that puts pressure on the spinal cord. Subsequently, serious injury and permanent damage to the spinal cord can develop.
Doctors may neglect to test for an SCA because of how rare it is, but failure to diagnose an SCA or misdiagnosis of this condition may seriously harm the patient. Some misdiagnoses of SCAs have even resulted in medical malpractice claims worth millions of dollars.
What Are the Symptoms of an SCA?
Some of the symptoms that a patient with a spinal cord abscess may exhibit include:
- Back pain
- Difficulty with urination
- Muscle weakness in the legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Physicians should check for these symptoms and conduct a test for an SCA if necessary.
How Doctors Diagnose SCAs
Some of the tools that doctors might use to diagnose spinal cord abscesses include blood tests, MRIs, fluid samples from the site of infection, or CT scans. Once detected, medical professionals may prescribe antibiotics or recommend surgery, but the ideal treatment will depend on the severity of the infection.
Failure to diagnose the condition or misdiagnosing it could lead to severe complications resulting from insufficient treatment.
When a Misdiagnosis May Lead to Complications and a Medical Malpractice Claim
If a doctor fails to properly diagnose an SCA, some of the complications that can result include:
- Bone or spinal infections
- Chronic back pain
- Permanent brain damage or damage to other areas of the nervous system
- Wrongful death
Medical professionals are expected to provide adequate care to patients and recognize the signs of a spinal cord abscess, along with other potentially devastating conditions. If a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose an SCA occurs, patients may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.