Cauda Equina Malpractice Settlement Is $1 Million

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Delay in Diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome Causes Neurological Damage

In November 2005, the plaintiff presented the defendant primary care physician (PCP) with back pain, radiating to his legs. His PCP attributed it to diabetes and prescribed Celebrex. Five days later, the plaintiff returned urgently to his PCP’s office, walking with a cane with leg pain. He was evaluated and sent to the ER.

The plaintiff remained in the ER for 24-hours without admission to the hospital. The defendant neurologist evaluated the plaintiff and noted 10/10 pain and decreased sensation in his legs. The defendant neurologist noted that the plaintiff’s symptoms could represent a cauda equina syndrome (a compression of the nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord) but failed to order the appropriate testing or consultations. Instead, the plaintiff was given IV pain medication.

The following morning, still in the ER, the plaintiff was unable to void since the afternoon of the previous day. Despite this new finding, the defendants discharged the plaintiff to home with a walker and a catheter.

Several days later, the plaintiff presented to another neurologist for a second opinion and his cauda equina syndrome was finally diagnosed. The plaintiff underwent surgical decompression, but given the delay in diagnosis and treatment of his condition, the plaintiff suffered permanent bowel and bladder dysfunction but does not require a catheter or colostomy bag. The plaintiff ambulates with a walker.

The defense was prepared to argue that the plaintiff was a medically complicated patient with a medical history significant for: Type I diabetes mellitus diagnosed at age ten with extremely poor control, diabetic neuropathy, spinal stenosis, spinal disc herniations, radiculopathy, myelopathy, multiple leg surgeries, degenerative joint disease, prostatisis, and prostate cancer. The defense claimed that the plaintiff’s underlying medical conditions were consistent with his presentation to his PCP’s office and to the hospital.

The parties settled the case for $1 million. (Middlesex Superior Court)

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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