Chemnick | Moen | Greenstreet

Medical Malpractice. It's All We Do. 206-443-8600

Delays and Failures to Diagnose Spinal-Cord Compression

There are a number of possible reasons for a person’s spinal cord to become compressed, including an acute traumatic injury to the spine, a tumor, a hematoma or an abscess. Spinal-cord compression is a serious condition requiring emergent treatment, but often the signs and symptoms are confusing to health care providers who are not keeping it in mind as a possible cause of the presenting symptoms.

Patients can come to a doctor with weakness and numbness in one or more legs as well as varying degrees of loss of bowel and bladder functions. Unfortunately, these symptoms can mimic those found in patients with nerve impingement who are taking narcotic medication for the pain. By the time providers realize something more serious is going on, often it is too late to decompress the spine and return the patient to normal function.

Client Case Study

Overlooked Spinal Cord Compression

Jim presented to his local ER complaining of middle and lower back pain. He was given pain medication and told to return if it didn’t get better. He came back two days later and ER personnel told him the same thing. He came back later that day and the ER doctor ordered imaging done of his low back, but those images did not explain the symptoms he was experiencing. Still, he was discharged.

He returned by ambulance the next day because he could not walk up the steps from his home to get into a personal car. He was admitted for observation and pain control. Over the next three days the strength and sensation in his legs worsened, and he continued to have bowel and bladder control problems.

Finally, his doctor realized Jim couldn’t move his legs and sent him via ambulance to a nearby hospital with a neurosurgical department. Imaging of the entire spine found a large epidural abscess in the mid-back area compressing on his spinal cord. A neurosurgeon performed emergency decompression, but unfortunately Jim was left with permanent motor and sensory loss in his legs and loss of bowel and bladder control.

CMG was able to obtain a multimillion dollar settlement to provide for Jim’s care.

Chemnick | Moen | Greenstreet
115 NE 100th St #220, Seattle, WA 98125 US
Phone: 206-443-8600
Fax: 206-443-6904