Cauda Equina Syndrome: Dangerous Spinal Condition Results in Permanent Injuries When Patient Complaints Are Not Taken Seriously

Recent medical malpractice lawsuit results in $2.5 million settlement in Massachusetts 

Medical malpractice attorney Robert M. Higgins recently settled a medical malpractice case involving a woman who suffered permanent injuries from cauda equina syndrome. Despite her symptoms including severe back pain, numbness, and bladder incontinence, two different doctors failed to order an MRI of her spine or refer her to a specialist.

Attorney Higgins who has represented individuals in similar lawsuits, said that, "Unfortunately, failing to diagnose the dangerous spinal condition known as cauda equina syndrome is more common than it should be. It happens when health care providers do not take patient symptoms and complaints as seriously as they should, and misdiagnose their condition as common back pain."

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Medical imaging of a spine showing the spinal condition of caudal 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, debilitating adverse results can include:
  • difficulty walking
  • permanent paralysis
  • impaired bladder and/or bowel control
  • other neurological and physical problems.
"Doctors and members of the healthcare team must accurately and timely diagnose this emergent condition before the nerves become permanently damaged," said Higgins. In this case, the patient's physiatrist dismissed her complaints as lumbar radiculopathy without requesting a consultation or imaging study and scheduled her for steroid injections. A second emergency room doctor also discounted her worrisome symptoms providing her with pain medicine and diagnosing her with sciatica and sending her home. Finally, after a second emergency room visit by ambulance, a new ER physician immediately ordered imaging and made the diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome and referred her to neurosurgery for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her nerves.

Read the full trial report here: Failure to Diagnose and Treat Cauda Equina Syndrome.

More Cauda Equina Syndrome Medical Malpractice Settlements

Lubin & Meyer has extensive experience successfully pursuing claims involving cauda equina syndrome, including but not limited to:

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