When doctors fail to correctly identify the cause of a serious medical problem or don’t respond quickly or appropriately to an immediate medical emergency, the results can be catastrophic. A misdiagnosis or lack of treatment for some conditions can lead to permanent injury or death.
Cauda equina syndrome (CES), a somewhat rare but extremely grave condition that affects nerves at the end of the spinal cord, is one such medical issue that requires swift identification and action by physicians in order to prevent devastating consequences. When doctors fail to follow the appropriate standard of care in diagnosing and addressing cauda equine syndrome, it could constitute an act of medical malpractice.
The experienced misdiagnosis lawyers at LawMD help individuals and families obtain compensation for injuries and losses that result from negligence in treating this serious spinal condition.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a Washington, D.c. misdiagnosis lawyer. Call (888) 695-2963 to get started.
What Is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
It isn’t too surprising if you’ve never heard of cauda equina syndrome. While millions of Americans deal with lower back pain every single day, CES is a relatively rare spinal condition. Many, if not most, lower back problems can be dealt with through pain relievers and exercise and often go away on their own. However, cauda equina syndrome is an extremely serious condition that requires urgent surgical treatment.
Cauda equina syndrome gets its name from the Latin for “horse’s tail,” which describes the appearance of the nerves at the end of the spine, which look like a horse’s tail as they extend from the spinal cord down the back of both legs. When those nerves experience trauma or are compressed, the pressure and swelling of those nerves can cause CES.
CES most commonly results from an extreme herniated disc in the lumbar region of the back. Additional potential causes of CES include:
- Spinal lesions and tumors
- Spinal infections or inflammation
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Violent injuries to the lower back
- Birth abnormalities
- Spinal arteriovenous malformations
- Spinal hemorrhages
- Postoperative lumbar spine surgery complications
- Spinal anesthesia
Symptoms of CES
Doctors often misdiagnose CES as less serious conditions, since the symptoms of CES are similar to other lower back problems.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, the following symptoms are “red flags” that should alert your physician that you may have CES:
- Severe low back pain
- Motor weakness, sensory loss, or pain in one or, more commonly, both legs
- Saddle anesthesia (unable to feel anything in the body areas that sit on a saddle)
- Recent onset of bladder dysfunction (such as urinary retention or incontinence)
- Recent onset of bowel incontinence
- Sensory abnormalities in the bladder or rectum
- Recent onset of sexual dysfunction
- A loss of reflexes in the extremities
Cauda Equina Syndrome & Medical Malpractice
CES is a medical emergency. Without proper testing that can confirm CES, as well as urgent surgical intervention that can relieve the pressure on the cauda equine nerves, a number of serious, debilitating, and permanent problems can result.
These problems can include:
- Permanent paralysis
- Permanent sexual dysfunction
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Loss of sensation in the lower extremities
- Frequent urinary infections
- Motor weakness
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, prompt surgery is the best treatment for patients with CES. Treating patients within 48 hours after the onset of the syndrome provides a significant advantage in improving sensory and motor deficits, as well as urinary and rectal function.
When a patient comes into an emergency room or a physician’s office with symptoms that could indicate cauda equine syndrome, it is imperative that CES be immediately identified so the patient can undergo surgery in the limited time frame available to spare the patient from permanent damage.
If doctors or other medical professionals fail to follow the proper testing protocols, misread test results, fail to properly evaluate the patient’s symptoms and medical history, or fail to order immediate surgical intervention, it could constitute medical negligence.
If you were diagnosed with CES and have suffered serious medical complications as a result, a medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your case and pursue compensation on your behalf.
Contact Our Firm for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of suspected cauda equine malpractice, LawMD’s misdiagnosis lawyers stand ready to provide experienced and aggressive legal representation. Many of our attorneys are also licensed physicians. This rich combination of knowledge and experience allows us to promptly determine what happened and whether medical mistakes were made. We aggressively pursue compensation that can help pay for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of relationship, and funeral expenses.
Please give us a call at (888) 695-2963 or contact us online for a free consultation with a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney.