A federal medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in Maryland in late October 2015 against a Maryland hospital, alleging that the hospital’s emergency room staff failed to timely diagnose the plaintiff’s serious back condition, including cauda equina syndrome, and discharged the plaintiff without first obtaining an MRI of the plaintiff’s spine.
The Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the man would have been diagnosed with spinal degeneration and disc herniation with cauda equina syndrome had the emergency room medical staff performed the required MRI. As a result of the delayed diagnosis and treatment of his serious spinal condition, the plaintiff alleges that he continues to suffer pain and instability in both of his legs, more than three years after the event, requiring him to use a cane when walking (with difficulty).
The Alleged Facts
The out-of-state man was working in Maryland on June 21, 2012 when he felt a pop in his lower back in the early morning. Soon after, he was unable to stand because of his excruciating back pain, leading him to request an ambulance to transport him to the defendant hospital’s emergency room. In the emergency room, he complained of serious back pain with numbness and tingling in his legs.
According to the plaintiff’s Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit, the emergency room physician examined him but did not evaluate him for a spinal condition and did not evaluate his neurological condition, despite a nurse’s note that the man had numbness and weakness in his legs along with a tingling sensation that radiated into his legs and feet.
At the time of his discharge from the emergency room less than two hours after he had arrived, the plaintiff alleges in his Maryland medical malpractice complaint that he was told that he should obtain an MRI but that the hospital could not perform one unless he had a referral from his primary care physician.
The plaintiff went to a Maryland primary care medical practice later that same afternoon for his severe back pain and continuing symptoms, where he was examined but not specifically evaluated for a spinal cord or other neurological condition. He was also advised that he could not obtain an MRI at that time but that he should return the following day for an MRI.
Back at his hotel room, the plaintiff woke up before midnight that same day and realized that he had lost control of his bladder. The man returned to the defendant hospital where he had an MRI of his spine and a neurosurgeon examined him and diagnosed him with degeneration in his spine and disc herniation with cauda equina syndrome. He underwent emergency surgery but the damage had already been done because of the delay in properly diagnosing and treating his condition, according to the man’s federal Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.
Source Sarrese J. Bradley, et al. v. Baltimore Washington Medical Center Inc., et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-03266-JKB.
What Is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
According to the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons website:
The spinal cord ends at the upper portion of the lumbar spine (lower back). The collection of nerves at the end of the spinal cord is known as the cauda equina, due to its resemblance to a horse’s tail.
The individual nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord that provide motor and sensory function to the legs and the bladder continue along in the spinal canal. The cauda equina is the continuation of these nerve roots in the lumbar region.
Cauda equina syndrome (“CES”) occurs when the nerve roots of the cauda equina are compressed and disrupt motor and sensory function to the lower extremities and bladder, which is a medical emergency that can lead to incontinence and permanent paralysis.
CES most commonly results from a massive herniated disc in the lumbar region (a single excessive strain or injury may cause a herniated disc). However, disc material degenerates naturally as you age, and the ligaments that hold it in place begin to weaken. As this degeneration progresses, a relatively minor strain or twisting movement can cause a disc to rupture.
For patients with back pain, the following symptoms may indicate 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 (including urinary retention or urinary incontinence); recent onset of bowel incontinence; sensory abnormalities in the bladder or rectum; recent onset of sexual dysfunction; and/or, a loss of reflexes in the extremities.
If you or a loved one suffered cauda equina syndrome that was misdiagnosed or late diagnosed in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state, who may investigate your cauda equina syndrome claim for you and represent you in a cauda equina syndrome medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.