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Failure to Diagnose Epidural Abscess

Medical Malpractice Lawyers Helping Patients in Ocala

Epidural abscesses are made up of pus and germs that gather between the outer membranes of the brain and spinal cord and the skull or spine bones, such that there is swelling. They are caused by infections. There are two kinds. When the infection occurs inside the skull, it is considered an intracranial epidural abscess. If it is located in the spine, it is a spinal epidural abscess. The latter are more common. Sometimes a failure to diagnose an epidural abscess is a result of medical malpractice and is actionable. At the Dean Law Firm, our Ocala misdiagnosis lawyers work with experienced, credible experts to evaluate cases and provide aggressive legal representation.

Failure to Diagnose an Epidural Abscess

Intracranial epidural abscesses can be caused by a recent neurosurgery, head injury, chronic ear infection, or chronic sinusitis. A spinal epidural abscess can be caused by bacteria or fungus, and it can be a result of other infections in the body, particularly a urinary tract infection. Sometimes it is a result of back surgery, boils on the back or scalp, bone infections of the spine, or bloodstream infections.

A failure to diagnose a spinal epidural abscess or intracranial epidural abscess is a fairly common medical error that can occur while practicing primary care medicine, urgent care, or emergency medicine. Sometimes it presents as neurologic dysfunction, episodic back pain, fever, and chills. It can also be present when a patient complains of bowel and urinary changes, which can make diagnosis more complicated.

When a spinal epidural abscess is suspected, a doctor should conduct an immediate MRI for confirmation, and an evacuation surgery should follow. Without this immediate medical action, a patient can suffer irreversible neurological injuries and may become unable to walk. Sometimes an untreated abscess can cause death.

A doctor can be liable if they fail to properly diagnose and treat an epidural abscess, such that it worsens and results in paralysis, another serious injury, or death. A doctor who is presented with neurological dysfunction and back pain should at least consider an epidural abscess in the differential diagnosis process. Differential diagnosis is a process of weighing the likelihood of one disease or medical condition against other possibilities. A physician can make a mistake in failing to list an epidural abscess as a possible diagnosis or in failing to order tests to confirm or rule out this diagnosis.

If your doctor failed to diagnose an epidural abscess, and the failure caused you to suffer injuries that could have been prevented, you may have a basis to sue for medical malpractice. To establish medical malpractice, you will need to show a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor's breach of the professional standard of care, causation from the breach to your injuries, and actual damages. Generally, it is necessary to retain an expert to testify on what the standard of care was, whether it was breached, and causation.

In some cases, it may also be necessary to retain an expert regarding the nature and extent of the damages. For example, if you suffer paralysis as a result of a failure to diagnose an epidural abscess, your attorney may need to retain an expert to determine to which extent you need household modifications, physical therapy, rehabilitation, a wheelchair, or other services to address the limitations arising out of paralysis. Your limitations may be permanent.

Damages that you may be able to recover include medical costs, rehabilitation, therapy, lost wages, lost earning capacity, mental anguish, emotional distress, disability, loss of enjoyment of activities, and pain and suffering. Items of damages such as loss of enjoyment and pain and suffering are noneconomic damages that can vary dramatically, depending on your own unique circumstances and how active or happy you were prior to the failure to diagnose.

Consult a Medical Negligence Attorney in the Ocala Area

At the Dean Law Firm, our experienced Ocala attorneys may be able to sue a health care provider on your behalf if you or a loved one was harmed by a failure to diagnose an epidural abscess. We serve patients and their families in Crystal River, The Villages, and other areas of Citrus, Levy, Sumter, Marion, and Lake Counties. Contact us at 352-387-8700 or through our online form for an appointment.