Cauda Equina: A Dangerous Outcome When Patient Complaints Are Not Taken Seriously

Lubin & Meyer settled a NH medical malpractice lawsuit this month involving a 50-year-old woman who now suffers from significant weakness of her legs and bowel and bladder incontinence due to a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of cauda equina syndrome.

Attorney Benjamin Novotny who represented the claimant in this lawsuit said that cauda equina syndrome is often misdiagnosed as simple back pain. "It is a big patient safety concern that only arises because health care providers often do not take patient complaints as seriously as they should."

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious medical emergency involving extreme pressure and swelling of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord. If patients with cauda equina syndrome do not get appropriate treatment, adverse results can include:
  • permanent paralysis
  • impaired bladder and/or bowel control
  • difficulty walking
  • other neurological and physical problems.
"Hospitals and care providers must accurately and timely diagnose this condition before the nerves become permanently injured," said Novotny. In this case, the patient's primary care doctor dismissed her complaints as lumbar disc disease and sciatica without requesting a consultation or imaging study and despite repeated complaints of pain, muscle spasms, weakness in the legs with numbness and tingling. She was eventually diagnosed with cauda equina 11 days later, after a visit to St. Joseph's Hospital and a transfer to Lahey Clinic.

Read the full trial report here: Delay in Diagnosis of Cauda Equina.

Lubin & Meyer has extensive experience successfully pursuing claims involving cauda equina syndrome, including but not limited to:
View our main website at LubinandMeyer.com
Lubin & Meyer PC - New England's Leader in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law. Attorneys practicing in MA, NH and RI.

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