The human spine is capable of supporting the full weight of the body and provides extensive mobility. However, it is not indestructible. One dangerous type of infection we see is a spinal epidural abscess (SEA), which can result in back pain, paralysis, and death.
If you or someone you love developed a spinal epidural abscess after a hospital stay, then you should not have to shoulder the consequences alone. Instead, speak to the New York spinal epidural abscess attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. With our more than 50 years of experience, we can provide the legal representation you need during a difficult part of your life. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to get a free case evaluation and learn how we can fight for you.
SEAs are the result of a buildup of bacteria in the spinal column, which can occur in a variety of scenarios – but usually starts with some form of back surgery. When a patient’s spine develops an infection, the body will naturally try to fight the infection with white blood cells. This will lead to a buildup of pus in the spinal column, which forms an abscess. The higher up the abscess is, the more likely it will cause paralysis and brain damage to the patient.
The pressure of an SEA can cause damage to the spinal column, resulting in:
There are several factors that make a patient more likely to develop an SEA. In general, infections are more common among patients older than 60 years who have diabetes, staph infections, or recent brain trauma. It is also possible for patients to develop hospital-based infections following spinal cord surgery or other invasive treatment. Hospital staff, from OR techs to surgeons, must properly clean patients’ surgical and/or injection sites to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and only use clean equipment.
SEAs are considered rare, and doctors may miss the obvious symptoms if they are not experienced with the condition. The classic triad of fever, back pain, and neurological deficits is not completely reliable when diagnosing SEAs, which is why doctors should pay close attention to the patient’s condition.
Symptoms of a spinal epidural abscess include:
- Back pain
- Difficulty walking
- Poor coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty controlling bladder or bowels
With these symptoms, doctors should thoroughly review the patient’s history and schedule exams to check for an SEA. This may require a physical exam to check the spine for tenderness or paralysis, an MRI to identify the abscess, blood cultures from the abscess, and blood tests to check for signs of an infection. Doctors should carefully review all test results to identify an SEA and rule out other possibilities. An SEA can be treated with antibiotics to stop the infection, drainage to reduce the pressure of the abscess, and surgery to remove it.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor does not provide the standard of care when treating a patient. With SEAs, this can include ignoring obvious symptoms, not scheduling tests in a timely manner, misreading test results, delaying in providing proper treatment, or having the poor sanitary conditions that allowed the patient to develop the abscess in the first place.
To determine if you were a victim of malpractice, you will need to review your medical records with another medical professional who can determine if your doctor broke the standard of care, as well as a skilled attorney who can advocate for your best interests.
Whether you suffered an SEA due to a surgical infection, a doctor who failed to properly diagnose your condition, or you received delayed treatment for an SEA, you deserve full compensation for the trauma you have experienced. SEAs are life-threatening conditions, and even patients who survive these ordeals can develop chronic back pain, paralysis, and nerve damage. While SEAs are uncommon, doctors should take every case seriously and provide the best care possible.
For more than 50 years, our New York medical malpractice lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, have fought for injured patients throughout New York. We have seen firsthand how medical negligence can destroy patients’ lives. We are dedicated to getting our clients the compensation they need to heal comfortably and move forward.
The costs of an SEA cannot be dismissed. Patients should not be strapped with thousands of dollars in medical bills and debilitating conditions because of a medical professional’s negligence. You deserve full compensation for all that you have suffered, and the team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, has the experience and resources to fight for you. To get a free case evaluation today, call us (212) 986-7353.
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