Misdiagnosed Meningitis Claims
Meningitis is a medical condition that refers to a rapidly developing infection, often found in young children, which can be fatal if not treated urgently. In many cases, meningitis does not present obvious symptoms to begin with, and a child may be considered as having a virus or similar condition. It is vital that meningitis is diagnosed as quickly as possible and that treatment is given urgently in order to secure the best prognosis for the patient. Failure to treat the illness promptly can result in permanent physical disabilities, psychological conditions and in the most serious cases, loss of life.
If you or a loved one have suffered from meningitis and you have been left with permanent or serious injuries that could have been avoided through the receipt of better care, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. If the meningitis was misdiagnosed, there were delays in assessments or failure to treat the condition swiftly, it is likely that you will have a potential case that can be investigated further by an experienced solicitor. Receiving compensation can help ease the financial and logistical burdens throughout recovery and onwards.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is the medical term that is given to the inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the three membranes that cover the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Their medical names are the pia mater, the dura mater and the arachnoid mater. The main function of the meninges is to protect the central nervous system, and so when meningitis occurs, the patient is in a very serious state, with significant risks to their health and life.
Meningitis is treated as a medical emergency as the risk of fatality is great if the condition is not urgently and appropriately treated. Delays in the receipt of treatment can lead to permanent injury, the need for amputation or at worst, the loss of life.
Causes of Meningitis
Meningitis is usually caused by severe infections brought about by viruses, bacteria, parasites and other such organisms. Medical research also suggested that weaker immune systems can be linked to recurring bacterial meningitis. The majority of cases are found to have been the result of a virus, but there are some non-infection causes of the condition too.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Meningitis can be difficult to diagnose in the earliest stages as the condition can progress without recognisable symptoms. In most cases, early symptoms of meningitis are similar to those of the flu. However, as the condition develops, more symptoms become clear, and the patient rapidly becomes more seriously ill. The speed at which meningitis progresses is swift, and a patient can become critically ill within hours.
Early symptoms of the condition include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscular aches and pains
- High temperatures but often with cold hands and feet
- Sensitivity to light
- Inability to concentrate
- A rash that will not fade under pressure. This can start as a few small spots on any part of the body but then spreads quickly over other parts. The rash often looks like new bruises and is caused by blood leaking into the tissue under the skin.
Treatment for Meningitis
In order to secure the best prognosis and minimise the risk of permanent damage, treatment for meningitis must be administered as quickly as possible. The majority of meningitis cases are bacterial, and hospitalisation will be necessary. Medical staff will immediately have a responsibility and duty of care to the patient and failures to observe these obligations can amount to medical negligence. Some of the responsibilities and treatments that are expected of medical professionals include:
- Antibiotics – these are usually needed intravenously
- Oxygen – Patients who struggle to breathe may require oxygen therapy. In the most severe cases, the oxygen will be administered through a tube which is inserted into the trachea.
- Corticosteroids – Used when meningitis causes pressure in the brain. This treatment may be administered to children or adults.
- Nursing Support – Nurses are required for the administration of medicines such as acetaminophen, anticonvulsants and fluids. Patients should also receive cooling treatments, good ventilation, comfortable rest and support with personal hygiene.
- Sedatives may be given to patients who are unable to relax or rest with ease
The above list is by no means exhaustive, and a multitude of additional treatments, therapies and recovery methods may be needed. It is the responsibility of medical staff to assess a patient thoroughly to determine their care needs and promptly provide necessary treatment. Failure to do so may amount to clinical negligence, and a patient may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
If you, your child or a loved one has suffered from meningitis which was initially misdiagnosed, and further injury or illness was sustained as a result, you may have a valid claim for compensation. To find out more, contact our team of experienced solicitors today for a free case assessment. As well as finding out if you are eligible to pursue a medical negligence claim, you will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This service is provided without any obligation to proceed.
If you do have a valid claim, our solicitors will be happy to help you on a no win no fee basis.