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Failure to Diagnose Spinal Epidural Abscess ($1,000,000 settlement)

Our client, a 59-year-old male, experienced episodic, low back pain during a six month period. His pain, mild at the outset, gradually increased to excruciating. Symptoms included fever and chills. Client sought treatment from his primary care doctor and an orthopedist and twice was admitted into a hospital for evaluation. Nevertheless, client’s true diagnosis remained undetected. Finally, a specialist, who conducted an extensive review of client’s history, determined that client might have a spinal epidural abscess in the dura of his spine. Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) represents a neurosurgical emergency. SEA is a rare diagnosis. Medical literature states that it is seen in one in ten thousand admissions. Nevertheless, if an SEA is suspected an immediate MRI must be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and emergent, evacuation surgery must follow. Failure to emergently remove an SEA can lead to paralysis or death. No MRI or evacuation surgery occurred until client sustained irreversible neurologic injury which substantially impaired the client’s ability to walk.

Dempsey and Kingsland action

We acquired all of client’s medical records for the previous 5 years. We retained a renowned neurologist, Maurice Victor, who is known as the “Father of Modern Neurology” to assist us in our review of the case. We also retained three other well-credentialed physicians to testify on client’s behalf. We filed suit against five physicians who participated in client’s treatment. We utilized the theme that client’s diagnosis was diagnosable and, in fact, was diagnosed but left untreated until client had sustained irreversible injury.

On the eve of trial, the case settled for $1,000,000 with all five physicians funding the settlement.