$4.2 Million Settlement against Hospital and Physicians for Failure to Diagnose Spinal Abscess

A 39 year old woman presented to her primary care physician complaining of acute mid back pain and difficulty breathing. The physician prescribed a pain reliever and told her to go to the emergency room if her symptoms worsened. Two days later she presented to the emergency room with the same symptoms and was diagnosed with a muscle strain. Two days after that she returns to the same emergency room with severe weakness in her lower legs. The emergency room is very busy so she leaves and goes to another hospital emergency department. There, after 8 hours, she is diagnosed with Guillan Barre Syndrome and told to return to the prior hospital for treatment. The patient returns to the prior hospital, is seen by a neurologist who diagnoses her with an epidural abscess, and immediately takes her to surgery. Unfortunately, too much time had passed to prevent permanent spinal cord injury as a result of the failure to timely treat and diagnose her epidural abscess. The patient is permanently paralyzed below the waist. A civil action against her treating physicians and both hospitals resulted in a settlement for $4.2 million.