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Epidural Abscess Delayed Diagnosis

Multimillion-dollar recovery for a 66-year-old Allegheny County woman who experienced a delay in diagnosing an epidural abscess at a hospital in the Pittsburgh area. An epidural abscess is a collection of infected fluid around the spinal cord. In this case, there was a long delay in ordering an MRI that showed the epidural abscess. By the time they discovered it, the woman had lost much of the function in her legs. She was wheelchair-bound and required significant help at home.

One of the real problems in this case was that the doctors simply were not communicating with one another. It was like the old saying, "The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing." Unfortunately, that happens more often than you would think when there are several doctors taking care of a patient in the hospital. In this case, each of the doctors assumed that the other one was going to order an MRI, and the end result was that no one ordered it. That is not a good situation when you are dealing with a condition like epidural abscess, which is an emergency situation. The longer the abscess compresses on the spinal cord, the more likely the patient is going to end up paralyzed which is, unfortunately, what happened here.

As with any person who is essentially wheelchair-bound, our client had a significant claim for pain and suffering and loss of the so-called ordinary pleasures of life, i.e., not being able to do the things that he or she used to do on a daily basis. In addition, a large part of the damages was for life care costs, i.e., the future medical expenses this person would have for things such as personal attendant care to assist her with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, transferring from one position to another, etc.); medical supplies; a specialized van for transportation; handicap modifications to her home and more. We hire professional life care planners to meet with the patient, see his or her house, and create a spreadsheet that plots all of those future expenses throughout the anticipated life expectancy of the client.

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