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Failing to prevent and diagnose a spinal abscess

Like many in Washington and across the country, you may automatically take precautions to prevent infections, perhaps without realizing you are doing so. Washing a scratch or cut and covering it with a bandage are simple actions that can save you much pain and suffering. You may also take for granted the availability of antibiotics to treat or prevent infections.

Nevertheless, even with all the knowledge and medical advances to avoid infections, people continue to develop fast moving infections and related conditions. One example is an epidural abscess on the spine. If you were the victim of an abscess on the spine, chances are you were left with devastating injuries.

What is an epidural abscess?

When an infection forms around the spinal cord, it may create pockets of pus that place pressure on the nerves in the spinal column. If a physician fails to take quick action, the nerves could become permanently damaged, resulting in paralysis or death.

Beginning with sharp pain in the back that radiates into the legs or arms and worsens at night, the symptoms comes on quickly and develop rapidly. If you feel tingling or weakness, then the infection is progressing. Soon, you may find it difficult to walk or use your arms, and you may lose control of your bladder or bowel function.

Missed signs

A doctor can diagnose an epidural abscess of the spine with a careful examination, blood test and MRI. However, the diagnosis often goes wrong because of any of the following factors:

  • Medical staff fails to take a complete history, including asking about recent surgeries, infections, drug use or HIV status.
  • Doctors miss or ignore symptoms of the infection's progression, such as numbness in the legs, dizziness or loss of bladder control.
  • Doctors fail to order appropriate diagnostic tests, including an MRI.
  • Radiologists miss the abscess when reading the MRI.

The abscess may be the result of an infection already in the body, particularly a urinary tract infection. Epidural abscesses are also more common in IV drug users. However, in many cases, medical professionals, such as surgeons, introduce the bacteria into the body during back surgery or a spinal tap or through careless attention to catheters and other invasive devices.

While the cause of the abscess is often difficult to pinpoint, medical negligence in diagnosing and treating the condition may be more obvious. Seeking the assistance of an attorney who has experience in medical malpractice related to epidural abscesses may benefit your cause for pursuing compensation.

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