Meningitis is an infection and consequent inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding your spinal cord and brain and is sometimes referred to as spinal meningitis. Most often, it is caused by a bacteria or viruses. Bacterial meningitis is typically more severe than its viral counterpart. Over two-thirds of the approximately 10,000 cases that occur each year are in children under five years of age. Those under two years of age have the highest incidence due to their immature immune systems. 10% of those afflicted with the condition die as a result.
Contact a medical malpractice attorney with experience handling failure to diagnose meningitis lawsuits.
If meningitis is not diagnosed in a timely manner and treated properly, the consequence can manifest itself in the form of deafness, brain damage, and seizure disorders. Diagnosis may be difficult because no single symptom is necessarily a positive indicator, and many of the symptoms are subtle or confusing. It is a combination of symptoms and the lack of alternate grounds for the infection that should raise suspicion.
At the onset of meningitis, symptoms may not be unlike those of a flu. A change in the usual pattern of the child’s behavior, however, quickly ensues, and may include lethargy and drowsiness alternating with irritability, and a reluctance to eat. Those afflicted with meningitis often complain of nausea, fever, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light. As the condition progresses, another indicator is bruises which form under the skin and spread quickly.
Bacterial meningitis can be diagnosed with a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. But because the initial symptoms are so similar to those of influenza, a spinal tap may be foregone. By the time the symptoms worsen, it is often too late to prevent brain damage or even death.
Treatment often involves the administration of intravenous antibiotics and cortico-steroids to prevent hearing loss. In cases with the bacterial form of the disease, the right antibiotic must be introduced to kill the specific bacteria causing the meningitis.
Following are issues that continue to contribute to misdiagnosis and mistreatment of the disease:
- Failure to see the patient when requested
- Failure to act with the necessary degree of urgency
- Failure to examine the patient appropriately
- Sending the patient home instead of admitting him or her to the hospital
- Failure to consult with more experienced doctors or specialists
- Failure to arrange adequate follow-up
- Communication breakdown between the doctor and the patient or patient's guardians
If you suspect that your child’s meningitis could have been prevented or moderated with a timely diagnosis, you may wish to sue to recover damages. Be sure, however, that the attorney you retain is an experienced failure to diagnose meningitis lawyer. He or she may need to be able to garner expert testimony to demonstrate that the misdiagnosis was a breach of standard of care resulting in exacerbated injuries to your child.
Contact our Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys today to find an experienced lawyer specializing in failure to diagnose meningitis cases.