Meningitis Misdiagnosis FAQs

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
  • Vomiting

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.


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01482 778 463 for free advice

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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:

  1. The care a patient received fell below the standards which could ‘reasonably be expected’ from a specialist in the field.
  2. That the NHS Trust or medical professional breached the duty of care that they owed to their patient.
  3. 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.

Can I pursue a case on behalf of a loved one who has died?

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.

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