What is meningitis?
Meningitis is known in medical terms as the inflammation of the meninges – the collective name for the three membranes that cover and protect the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
Meningitis is caused when these protective membranes around the spinal cord and brain become inflamed and infected. Even when meningitis is diagnosed correctly, if not treated quickly, it can be a devastating illness that can potentially cause serious life changing injuries including mental impairment, amputations and in some cases death.
There are 2 types of meningitis which are:
- Viral meningitis
- Bacterial meningitis
All cases of meningitis should be treated as a medical emergency and if your medical professional, GP or doctor does not do so, you could be injured as a result.
What are the causes of meningitis?
Meningitis is usually caused due to an infection of viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites which eventually affects the brain and nerves. In addition, meningitis can be caused by an ear or sinus infection, a skull fracture or after surgery. Identifying the cause of meningitis is very important as this will help determine which treatment plan is right for you.
Although vaccinations have gone a long way in helping to reduce the amount of bacteria that have been known to cause meningitis, there are a few strains that do not currently have an appropriate vaccine to combat it.
These are known as:
- Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.
These are commonly known as meningococcal bacteria and more commonly affect teenagers and young adults. It has been known to cause epidemics in schools, boarding schools, university campuses, student housing and military bases. This type of bacteria can be spread through:
- Sharing personal possessions such as a water bottle or cigarette
- Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
These are commonly referred to as pneumococcal bacteria and more commonly affect babies and small children as their immune system has not fully developed yet.
Symptoms of meningitis
The symptoms of meningitis are not always easy to spot, and in some cases meningitis may progress without any symptoms at all.
The early symptoms of meningitis can be likened to that of flu as they can include symptoms such as:
- Muscle pain
- Neck pain
- High temperatures
- Cold hands and feet
- Pale, blotchy skin and a discolouration rash
Not every patient with develop a rash but if a rash is present then it is important to apply the ‘glass test’. The rash will not fade under pressure and will resemble fresh bruises. It may start in a small area of the body and spread throughout the rest of the body quickly. The rash will not fade as blood has leaked into tissue under the skin.
The glass test:
- Take an ordinary glass tumbler. Plastic will do fine also.
- Place tumbler on the skin next to spots
- Roll over spots applying firm pressure.
- Normal skin will turn white as the blood is pushed out of surface blood vessels.
- If the spots fade when you roll the glass, the rash is probably not very serious
- If the spots do not fade under pressure then this is a medical emergency.
How is meningitis treated?
Treatment depends on the type of meningitis. Patients with bacterial meningitis will require hospitalisation and treatment with intravenous antibiotics. Patients with viral meningitis may need bed rest for several weeks. If a medical professional fails to provide the patient with the necessary medical care or fails to diagnose meningitis, they could be at fault.
How does misdiagnosis of meningitis happen?
A correct and timely diagnosis of meningitis is extremely important as a patient can become very ill in a short period of time if they are not treated correctly or indeed promptly.
If a doctor does not listen to the concerns of a patient or their family, or fails to recognise the symptoms, this could lead to severe injuries which could be potentially life changing or even life threatening.
We put our trust into our medical staff, and with that we expect a certain level of service. If they fail to provide you with a reasonable level of service and care and you are injured as a result, you deserve compensation. Where medical misdiagnosis and meningitis misdiagnosis has occurred, these injuries have resulted in brain injuries, amputations and in some instances death.
It is vital that you choose the expert services of an experienced legal firm should you or a loved one suffer from a case of meningitis misdiagnosis. We understand how severe these cases can be and how the effects of a misdiagnosis can affect the victim and their families. With this in mind, we will fight for the maximum amount of compensation available to ensure your best interests, and that of your family are pursued.
You may be concerned about claiming compensation but rest assured, all compensation claims are handled on a no win, no fee basis.
For free initial advice and to discuss your meningitis misdiagnosis claim call us on 0203 817 9430 and speak to an expert medical negligence solicitor today. All initial enquiries are free and there is no obligation to proceed whatsoever.