Even though back pain is common as people age, doctors and emergency departments should not be quick to dismiss a patient who reports back pain. If they do, they may fail to diagnose and treat serious conditions, such as cauda equina syndrome. If this condition is not promptly diagnosed and properly treated, patients can suffer serious and permanent harm.
What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves located at the base of the spine. If these nerves become compressed for any reason, the patient will experience significant lower back and buttock pain that travels down the back of the legs. Common symptoms of this spinal condition include:
- Severe pain in lower back, buttocks, pelvic area, thighs, and legs
- Weakness in leg(s)
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Loss of sexual function
Many times, a physician will not recognize the emergency of this condition and treat it like it was simply a sore back or muscle pain. If not diagnosed and left untreated, these symptoms may increase and include desensitization or numbness of the groin, muscle weakness in the legs, and even incontinence.
Because the risk of paralysis and other complications is significant, doctors and hospitals must do everything possible to avoid a misdiagnosis and properly diagnose the condition. Radiology testing, like a CT scan or MRI, should be used to confirm a diagnosis. If cauda equina syndrome is diagnosed, urgent surgery is required to prevent permanent harm to the patient.
Establishing Medical Liability for a Claim
Physicians have a duty to treat their patients according to the standard of care for their area of medical practice. For cases involving cauda equine syndrome, the failure to timely diagnose and urgently treat a patient presenting with the signs and symptoms of the condition can give rise to a medical negligence lawsuit. This can be established by a qualified medical expert witness after a careful review of the medical records.
Another physician, likely a spine specialist, is also needed to testify that the patient would have had a more favorable outcome had prompt treatment been initiated for the condition.
Seek Help from a Michigan Cauda Equina Syndrome Attorney
If a doctor and hospital fail to diagnose cauda equina syndrome when a patient presents with signs of the condition, it can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. These lawsuits seek settlements and compensation for pain and suffering, disability, loss of earnings, medical expenses, and other losses. The settlements are often significant because of the permanent harm done to the patient.
If you or a loved one were injured or incurred medical complications after a doctor failed to properly diagnose or treat your back pain, you should contact our qualified Michigan malpractice lawyers. Through your free case consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys, you may find that you have a valid claim against a doctor, which can help you to recover compensation for your damages.
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