Meningitis is a devastating illness which has the potential to cause serious and life-changing injuries – even when it is diagnosed correctly.
Unfortunately, the delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of meningitis can dramatically increase the chances of a person needing an amputation, suffering brain damage or dying.
If it is not treated quickly, meningitis will attack the three separate membranes which cover and protect the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord. This is known medically as an inflammation of the meninges.
Although all healthcare professionals are trained to look after a patient’s best interests, complications can sometimes arise because of the misdiagnosis of meningitis or because a doctor or healthcare practitioner has failed to spot the symptoms quickly enough. When this happens the effects can be potentially life-changing or sometimes even fatal.
As experienced medical negligence solicitors, we know how devastating it can be for a family that’s been failed by the healthcare system. We also understand the implications that a meningitis misdiagnosis can have, which is why we strive to obtain any ongoing support which may be needed.
We have extensive experience in the investigation of brain and spinal infection. If you or someone you love suspects that there has been a failure to receive the appropriate treatment, or the necessary standard of care, when contracting meningitis or a brain or spinal infection, we would strongly advise you to get in touch.
We won’t just help you to claim compensation, as we are committed to properly investigating what went wrong and finding out why – ensuring that lessons are leaned and more robust procedures are implemented in the future to spot the warning signs of these condition as early as possible.
Whilst this cannot bring back a loved one who has died, it may help to prevent other families from suffering in the same way. It could also help to hold the people responsible to account for their failings.
In a recent high-profile case, we successfully secured an apology from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the failings which led to the tragic death of one-year-old Cayden McConnell. Cayden’s family are now campaigning and telling Cayden’s story to warn others how to spot the symptoms of meningitis and what action to take.
See Caydens Story:
Here at Hudgell Solicitors, we don’t just see the claim – we see the person and families affected. That’s why we promise to put the needs of the people we represent first, as we know how important it can be to have access to any rehabilitation services which may be required, whilst your claim progresses.
If our medical experts can prove your case, when trying to secure the maximum compensation possible we will take into account rehabilitation, care and therapy costs, any specialist equipment that might be needed as well as any loss of earnings. This allows us to ensure that your current and future medical needs are properly met.
To discuss your meningitis compensation claim with a sympathetic and understanding solicitor.
What types of meningitis are there?
Although this deadly disease can appear in several forms, there are actually only two types of meningitis:
- Bacterial meningitis
- Viral meningitis
The most common form of meningitis is caused by meningococcal bacteria, which can lead to a person contracting meningitis, septicaemia (commonly known as sepsis) or both.
Babies and children under five are much more likely to contract bacterial meningitis so additional care should be taken when they are assessed.
Because there are often no signs of meningitis in cases of septicaemia (sepsis), this can be a more life-threatening form of the disease.
To minimize the risk of injury as a result of meningitis, every case should be treated as a medical emergency.
If a GP, doctor, nurse or any other medical professional does not do this, the misdiagnosis of meningitis can easily occur – especially if the deadly bacterial type is dismissed as a virus.
What are the main meningitis symptoms?
The main symptoms of meningitis vary depending on the age of the person displaying them.
Although someone might display one or all of the symptoms, it is sometimes possible to have meningitis and not be showing any visible signs of it at all. If this was the case, a medical professional would need to conduct a lumbar puncture or CSF examination to test the cerebral spinal fluid for its signs of infection.
For babies and young children under five years old, who are deemed to be most at risk of the disease, the main symptoms are:
- Agitation and refusing to be picked up
- Cold hands and feet
- Convulsions or seizures
- Drowsiness, floppiness or unresponsive
- High fever
- Pale, blotchy skin
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Red rash – that does not fade under pressure
- Refusing to feed
- Stiff neck and sensitive to light
- Tense, bulging soft spot on top of their head, known as the ‘fontanelle’
- Unusual high-pitched cry or moaning
The additional meningitis symptoms can be present in older children, teenagers and adults:
- Confused and irritable
- Difficult to wake up
- Severe muscle pain
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
How does the misdiagnosis of meningitis happen?
Meningitis is a disease which needs to be treated promptly and correctly because if this is not the case, its effects can quickly lead to severe and potentially life-changing injuries.
In fact, only the early diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis with antibiotics can prevent permanent neurological damage.
Unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals sometimes fail to recognise the symptoms and this can lead to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of meningitis.
If you or a loved one suspect that you have been let down by medical staff who failed to provide a reasonable level of care, which resulted in an injury, you may be entitled to compensation and assistance with rehabilitation and ongoing care
If your child or a loved one has passed away as a result of meningitis, there will be an inquest into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. As inquest solicitors, we can represent you at the subsequent hearing and seek to gain answers on your family’s behalf.
Because the misdiagnosis of meningitis is serious – and sometimes results in limbs being amputated, brain injuries or even death; there are strict guidelines which must be followed to try and prevent this from happening.
Administering a high dose of antibiotics is the first action which must be taken if a possible case of meningitis is suspected.
To determine whether a patient is definitely suffering from meningitis, the following clinical tests should all be carried out to help confirm a diagnosis:
- A Lumbar puncture – Spinal fluid is collected for testing.
- Blood and urine culture analysis
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan of the head
Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of meningitis often happens because these routine checks are not conducted by the medical professionals who have been entrusted with a patient’s care.
In the cases of young children, toddlers and babies, the symptoms can often be missed because they develop at the same time as another sickness or condition such as swine flu, pneumonia, jaundice or flu.
If a health professional has failed to properly diagnose meningitis or delivered an unsatisfactory level of care which results in an injury, they could be guilty of medical negligence.
What must be proven to bring a successful meningitis negligence claim?
Here at Hudgell Solicitors, our meningitis negligence claims experts have helped people of all ages that have suffered as the result of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
To bring a successful medical negligence case, three things must be proven:
- The care a patient received fell below the standards which could ‘reasonably be expected’ from a specialist in the field.
- That the NHS Trust or medical professional breached the duty of care that they owed to their patient.
- That this lack of care led directly to the injury or harm suffered, which was a ‘reasonably foreseeable consequence’ of the necessary or appropriate actions not being taken by the person providing treatment.
Because of the complex legal and medical issues which are involved in securing a successful claim, it is a good idea to seek specialist legal advice from a solicitor before taking any action.
To discuss any aspect of your meningitis claim in confidence, please call 0808 2316068 now.
How long do I have to make a compensation claim?
When pursuing meningitis negligence claims, there is a three-year time limit in which to do so. This starts from the date when the injury occurred, or the day when you first learnt the injuries were sustained a result of medical negligence.
For under-18s, the three-year period starts on their 18th birthday and a claim can be made up to their 21st birthday.
Can I pursue a case on behalf of a dead loved one?
If a family member or loved one has passed away as the result of a meningitis misdiagnosis, we understand why you might want to gain answers about the circumstances surrounding their death.
Our meningitis claims solicitors will fully support your bid to uncover the truth, hold the people who are responsible to account and help to obtain the apology you deserve. They can also represent you at any subsequent inquest.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the pain and suffering which has been caused, or any expenses or financial losses which have been incurred because of the death.
In the event of a wrongful death, a spouse, civil partner or a parent of (children under 18) could also be entitled to a statutory bereavement award in addition to any compensation.
Related cases we have dealt with
Meningitis Research Foundation – As well as raising awareness about the disease’s impact, the Foundation wants to create effective vaccines to help eradicate it altogether.
Meningitis Now – This organisation offers support to those who have been affected by meningitis and raises funds to conduct vital research into the disease in a bid to combat the illness.
Cayden’s Story – This help group has been set-up to act as a point of contact for parents who need advice or assistance to help them cope with the loss of a child to the deadly meningitis disease.
No win no fee
- personal insurance cover so there’s no financial risk to you in pursuing a claim
- Whatever the outcome of your meningitis compensation claim, you won’t have to pay a penny (provided that you fully assist us with your claim) other than an agreed percentage of your damages