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Meningitis Misdiagnosis Claims

Your guide to claiming when Meningitis is improperly diagnosed or missed

A photo of Mrs Swaffield

I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Making a claim for Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection that can develop rapidly and your child could become seriously ill within hours. Failure by a GP or hospital doctor to diagnose meningitis quickly and accurately can result in permanent physical and psychological disabilities and, in some instances, the loss of life.

In many cases, meningitis may initially develop without any recognisable symptoms or symptoms that are mistaken for a different condition.  As there are many different types of meningitis, it is crucial that a doctor performs multiple tests so that a correct diagnosis can be made.

Following recovery from meningitis and septicaemia, you or a loved one may be left with a severe and permanent disability.  When a life-changing, permanent injury, which could have been avoided, is caused by symptoms that were missed, misdiagnosed or mistreated, the impact upon the whole family can be devastating.

Cases of meningitis misdiagnosis can often be complex.

Cases of clinical negligence involving the misdiagnosis or substandard treatment of meningitis can often be complicated, but a hospital trust has a legal ‘Duty of Candour’ to both inform and apologise to patients if mistakes have been made while in their care.

However, it may not always be so straightforward to obtain a proper explanation as to what happened and where the responsibility may lie.

It is vitally important that you seek a legal expert who has specialist knowledge of the key medical issues, together with a sympathetic and sensitive understanding of how everyone involved is affected.

If you have contracted Meningitis and it was either missed or diagnosed as something else, you may have a claim. With a wealth of specialist knowledge in meningitis misdiagnosis cases, we can provide support, advice and guidance throughout the process. There are no upfront fees or payments, so talk to Your Legal Friend today for more information.

Claiming for Meningitis misdiagnosis compensation

Your Legal Friend has many years of experience in successfully resolving complex meningitis misdiagnosis cases. We can help you:

  • Find out the reason why you or a member of your family were not given the duty of care you were owed.
  • Secure appropriate compensation to ensure that the financial demands of providing the necessary special care, support, treatment and equipment will be properly met, both now and in the future.

For a case like this to be successful, you need to prove that:

  • The doctor, surgeon or hospital was in breach of the duty of care they owed to their patient.
  • The care received fell below the standard that could “reasonably be expected” from a specialist in the field.
  • The lack of care led directly to the injury or harm which was a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of the actions or omissions of the doctor or other person providing the treatment.

As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we know that you and your family may feel shocked and devastated that you may not have received the necessary, appropriate standard of care or treatment. We also know that families need to find answers as to why the health care system has failed them at their time of greatest need.

There can often be an enormous emotional hurdle to overcome before even deciding to seek legal advice. You also need to have confidence that the clinical negligence team you've chosen possess the in-depth knowledge and experience of both the complex legal and medical issues involved in securing a successful meningitis misdiagnosis claim.

However, from the first time we discuss your case, our experienced medical negligence solicitors will treat you with the highest degree of sympathetic and sensitive understanding and provide you with the expert guidance you need.

We are committed to ensuring we properly investigate what went wrong and why, and to make those responsible for their failure to provide you with an appropriate standard of care account for their actions. If we can prove your case, we will secure the maximum compensation for you including loss of earnings, rehabilitation costs, therapy, support, care and specialist equipment, so that your current and future medical treatment and care needs are properly met.

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Our medical negligence team has specific experience in handling meningitis cases and has wider experience in handling complex brain injury cases; so we know how difficult a decision it can be to bring a meningitis compensation claim.

Sepsis misdiagnosis claims team

We are therefore committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our expert solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical negligence team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value medical cases.

Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a seven-year-old and £4 million for an 11-year-old child.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients are recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

If you’d like to understand whether or not you might be able to pursue a meningitis misdiagnosis claim, either call our freephone number or submit your details through the form on this page and we’ll be in touch to schedule a phone call at a time to suit you. If you decide that you’d like to start a claim, one of our medical malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement*. A ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to pay any legal costs, so there’s no financial risk to you.

 

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

What our customers say

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“I found the staff to be friendly, helpful, courteous and they kept me well informed on a regular basis”

Mrs. Vora,
Loughborough

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“They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently”

Mr Dowse
Leeds

  For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today 0151 550 5228

10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

How common is Meningitis?

  • Around 2,350 single cases of ‘bacterial’ meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) were diagnosed in the UK, 2011-12 (NHS UK)
  • An estimated 3,200 people contract ‘uncontrolled’ bacterial meningitis and associated septicaemia in the UK each year (Meningitis Research Foundation)
  • Meningococcal disease, meningitis or septicaemia caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria results in about one death in every 10 cases (NHS UK)
  • Most fatalities are caused by septicaemia rather than meningitis (NHS UK)
  • Up to one in four may experience complications of meningitis, such as hearing loss, following bacterial meningitis (NHS UK)

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges which are protective tissue linings or membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The infection causes the membranes to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

There are two main types of meningitis

It is vital that a diagnosis distinguishes between the two main types of meningitis.

Viral meningitis – caused by viruses spread through coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene.

Bacterial meningitis - caused by a number of different bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis or Streptococcus pneumonia,

Viral meningitis - is usually an unpleasant but relatively mild and less serious condition, that most commonly affects babies and young children. Normally there is a complete recovery from the disease but more severe; long-term symptoms may also result.

Bacterial meningitis - is the more serious form of meningitis and requires immediate expert medical assistance.

Misdiagnosis can occur between the two types of meningitis when the deadly bacterial meningitis is often dismissed as a viral illness by a doctor.  This could mean the appropriate tests, including a CT scan or lumbar puncture, are not carried out to confirm that bacterial meningitis is not the cause.

Meningitis can appear in several forms, including:

  • aseptic meningitis
  • gram negative
  • haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)
  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal
  • staphylococcal
  • tuberculous
Read less

What is the most common form of Meningitis?

The most common form is caused by meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis, septicaemia or both.

Septicaemia is the more life-threatening form of the disease and is more dangerous when there are no signs of meningitis.

Babies are at a higher risk of bacterial meningitis than any other age group. They can fall ill with all the main types of meningitis and septicaemia, including:

  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal, and
  • Hib

 

Bacterial forms that mostly, but not exclusively, affect new-born babies are:

  • group B Streptococcal (GBS)
  • Coli
  • Listeria

What are the symptoms of Meningitis in babies and young children under five years of age?

This age group are most at risk and may develop some of the following symptoms, in any order:

  • high fever
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • refusing to feed
  • agitation and reusing to be picked up
  • drowsiness, floppy and unresponsive
  • rapid breathing
  • unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
  • pale, blotchy skin,
  • red rash
  • tense, bulging soft spot on the top of the head, known as the ‘fontanelle’
  • stiff neck and sensitivity to light
  • convulsions or seizures

What are the symptoms of Meningitis in older children, teenagers and adults?

For this age group, additional symptoms also include:

  • difficulty waking up
  • confusion and irritability
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck

How is Meningitis diagnosed?

The glass test – a quick first test you can carry out immediately at home

If a rash appears, press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.  A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure could be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.

A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure might first appear as a few small spots or “pinpricks” on any part of the body. The condition often spreads rapidly and begins to look like fresh bruising as blood leaks into the tissue under the skin.

It is vital to get immediate medical help if you or anyone in your family show any symptoms of meningitis.

 

How do you test for Meningitis?

If a patient is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform several key clinical tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

  • lumbar puncture – also called a “spinal tap”, in which spinal fluid is collected for testing.
  • CT scan of the head
  • chest X-ray
  • blood culture analysis

How is Meningitis misdiagnosed or missed?

Sometimes, another sickness or condition is thought to be the cause of illness, often including:

  • shaken Baby Syndrome
  • swine Flu
  • pneumonia
  • flu
  • jaundice

In other cases, it might be that the victim developed more than one sickness at a time. A child who developed a cold or flu around the same time as the meningitis bacteria entered the brain could show the signs of the less dangerous sickness. As a result,  other symptoms can be overlooked, and they’ll be treated for the less serious condition, allowing Meningitis to go untreated, causing further damage.

In other cases, Meningitis can be misdiagnosed as a more serious condition like cancer – treatment for cancer of the brain does not affect the development of meningitis.

How is Meningitis treated?

The treatment for severe bacterial meningitis will frequently require hospital treatment.

A variety of regular treatments will include:

  • antibiotics
  • anti-convulsants
  • corticosteroids
  • paracetamol
  • oxygen therapy
  • fluid control
  • blood tests
  • sedatives

What are the complications of bacterial Meningitis?

  • brain damage
  • build-up of fluid between the skull and brain
  • hearing loss
  • seizures
  • permanent brain damage or even death can result if a diagnosis is delayed and brain swelling persists.

Further consequences of bacterial meningitis include:

  • brain damage, itself causing epilepsy, loss of memory or cognitive impairment, deafness.
  • loss of limb/s - if accompanied by septicaemia.

Complications from meningitis may be caused by a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis made by a doctor or another healthcare practitioner.

  • Around 2,350 single cases of ‘bacterial’ meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) were diagnosed in the UK, 2011-12 (NHS UK)
  • An estimated 3,200 people contract ‘uncontrolled’ bacterial meningitis and associated septicaemia in the UK each year (Meningitis Research Foundation)
  • Meningococcal disease, meningitis or septicaemia caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria results in about one death in every 10 cases (NHS UK)
  • Most fatalities are caused by septicaemia rather than meningitis (NHS UK)
  • Up to one in four may experience complications of meningitis, such as hearing loss, following bacterial meningitis (NHS UK)

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges which are protective tissue linings or membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The infection causes the membranes to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain.

There are two main types of meningitis

It is vital that a diagnosis distinguishes between the two main types of meningitis.

Viral meningitis – caused by viruses spread through coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene.

Bacterial meningitis - caused by a number of different bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis or Streptococcus pneumonia,

Viral meningitis - is usually an unpleasant but relatively mild and less serious condition, that most commonly affects babies and young children. Normally there is a complete recovery from the disease but more severe; long-term symptoms may also result.

Bacterial meningitis - is the more serious form of meningitis and requires immediate expert medical assistance.

Misdiagnosis can occur between the two types of meningitis when the deadly bacterial meningitis is often dismissed as a viral illness by a doctor.  This could mean the appropriate tests, including a CT scan or lumbar puncture, are not carried out to confirm that bacterial meningitis is not the cause.

Meningitis can appear in several forms, including:

  • aseptic meningitis
  • gram negative
  • haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)
  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal
  • staphylococcal
  • tuberculous
Read less

The most common form is caused by meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis, septicaemia or both.

Septicaemia is the more life-threatening form of the disease and is more dangerous when there are no signs of meningitis.

Babies are at a higher risk of bacterial meningitis than any other age group. They can fall ill with all the main types of meningitis and septicaemia, including:

  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal, and
  • Hib

 

Bacterial forms that mostly, but not exclusively, affect new-born babies are:

  • group B Streptococcal (GBS)
  • Coli
  • Listeria

This age group are most at risk and may develop some of the following symptoms, in any order:

  • high fever
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • refusing to feed
  • agitation and reusing to be picked up
  • drowsiness, floppy and unresponsive
  • rapid breathing
  • unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
  • pale, blotchy skin,
  • red rash
  • tense, bulging soft spot on the top of the head, known as the ‘fontanelle’
  • stiff neck and sensitivity to light
  • convulsions or seizures

For this age group, additional symptoms also include:

  • difficulty waking up
  • confusion and irritability
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck

The glass test – a quick first test you can carry out immediately at home

If a rash appears, press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.  A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure could be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.

A rash that doesn’t fade under pressure might first appear as a few small spots or “pinpricks” on any part of the body. The condition often spreads rapidly and begins to look like fresh bruising as blood leaks into the tissue under the skin.

It is vital to get immediate medical help if you or anyone in your family show any symptoms of meningitis.

 

If a patient is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform several key clinical tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

  • lumbar puncture – also called a “spinal tap”, in which spinal fluid is collected for testing.
  • CT scan of the head
  • chest X-ray
  • blood culture analysis

Sometimes, another sickness or condition is thought to be the cause of illness, often including:

  • shaken Baby Syndrome
  • swine Flu
  • pneumonia
  • flu
  • jaundice

In other cases, it might be that the victim developed more than one sickness at a time. A child who developed a cold or flu around the same time as the meningitis bacteria entered the brain could show the signs of the less dangerous sickness. As a result,  other symptoms can be overlooked, and they’ll be treated for the less serious condition, allowing Meningitis to go untreated, causing further damage.

In other cases, Meningitis can be misdiagnosed as a more serious condition like cancer – treatment for cancer of the brain does not affect the development of meningitis.

The treatment for severe bacterial meningitis will frequently require hospital treatment.

A variety of regular treatments will include:

  • antibiotics
  • anti-convulsants
  • corticosteroids
  • paracetamol
  • oxygen therapy
  • fluid control
  • blood tests
  • sedatives
  • brain damage
  • build-up of fluid between the skull and brain
  • hearing loss
  • seizures
  • permanent brain damage or even death can result if a diagnosis is delayed and brain swelling persists.

Further consequences of bacterial meningitis include:

  • brain damage, itself causing epilepsy, loss of memory or cognitive impairment, deafness.
  • loss of limb/s - if accompanied by septicaemia.

Complications from meningitis may be caused by a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis made by a doctor or another healthcare practitioner.