Spinal epidural abscesses are uncommon and difficult to diagose. Fortunately in this patient the infection was identified and treated at an early stage.
It is part of the practice of medicine to hear of bad outcomes relating to patients with rare conditions who had initially presented with very common everyday symptoms. These cases may even end up in court.
As a GP also working in your local hospital’s emergency department, you are aware that many of the patients you see are likely to be completely unknown to you, unlike in general practice. In the emergency department, however, it is easier and quicker to obtain diagnostic investigations such as blood tests and x-rays than it is in a general practice, and also there is the opportunity to reassess the patient and hopefully discuss him or her with a colleague.