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Failure to diagnose meningitis &
meningitis misdiagnosis claims

Failure to diagnose meningitis & meningitis misdiagnosis claims

How much can you claim?

A 13 year old boy's meningitis was misdiagnosed and shortly after, he became totally deaf in both ears. Nine years later, he was awarded:


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Claiming for meningitis

Medical negligence whilst uncommon can have a big impact on your life and wellbeing.

Even when it’s diagnosed and treated correctly, meningitis can be a devastating illness. But for those that have been affected by medical negligence, the effects can be even worse and lead to the condition becoming life threatening and life altering.  

Meningitis is a serious illness that always  needs to be treated quickly in order to achieve a cure.  If not treated quickly enough meningitis can lead to  deafness, limb loss, nerve damage, and brain damage, and can be  fatal. In most cases patients across the UK receive an excellent level of care but, unfortunately, there are some that do not. A medical negligence investigation into the standard of  care given  can help those affected by meningitis  better understand whether they were let down by the healthcare system  and if it is proven that they have suffered a significant injury as a results of those failings they can receive financial compensation to reflect the suffering they have endured.

Here at Your Legal Friend, we know that the decision to take any compensation case forward can be difficult. But we use our skills and experience in the area of medical negligence to offer of clients support every-step of the way. Our friendly, professional team are available to offer you the straight forward advice and guidance you need it if you are  considering making meningitis misdiagnosed compensation claim. We’ll use our skills to ensure your case has the best outcome possible.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The time limit on making a meningitis claim

You have three years to make any medical claim for compensation, including in the instance of meningitis misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

We know that when you want to focus on your recovery, a claim for compensation can be the last thing on your mind. But with the support of a meningitis misdiagnosis lawyer we can ensure that your claim is conducted as  smoothly as possible avoiding  undue stress and worry for you. If you are an adult when the negligence occurred  you  have up to three years to take action.  A  witness statement that sets out your recollection is important  evidence in your case. For this reason, we recommend that our clients start the process as soon as they can, allowing them to recall the details of their experience, which can add weight to their case and improve the chances of success.

To support your case we will also use other documentation, such as medical records, scans and complaints correspondence, in some cases these can be easier to obtain the sooner we are able to request them.

The time frame for making a claim for meningitis misdiagnosis compensation doesn’t start from when you first visit your GP. It starts from the ‘date of knowledge’, a legal term referring to the point when you first realised a mistake had been made. This could be after you’ve been misdiagnosed several times and you may have even started treatment. In some cases, especially those that are complex, it can be difficult to remember the fixed date but our team of experts are on hand to offer you help. Using their experience and skills, the Your Legal Friend team will help you understand how long you have to make a case.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death. 

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of medical negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • No win, no fee – guaranteed
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation
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

Our meningitis claims experience

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of brain injury cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a meningitis case.

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

Our brain injury team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high value meningitis cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation. Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is 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”.

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.

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

*Our No Win, No Fee agreement

Pay nothing if you lose your case, get maximum compensation if you win

Whatever the nature of your meningitis claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard meningitis claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

No Win, No Fee Solicitors

Start your claim in 10 minutes

For a FREE, confidential, no-obligation assessment of your claim, simply complete this short form. We aim to call you back within 10 minutes.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

The meningitis claims process

Step 1 - Obtaining your medical records

We ask you to sign forms of authority so that we can obtain your medical records from your GP and any hospitals that have treated you.

Step 2 - Providing your statement of what happened

As the medical experts we instruct need to know what happened during your treatment, we work with you to draft a detailed, accurate statement in your own words.

Step 3 - Minimising your loss

You are responsible for minimising the losses you have incurred as a result of the alleged medical negligence, so you need to attend any available treatments that could aid your recovery.  You may also need to return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Step 4 - Establishing that a breach of duty occurred

You must prove that the treatment you received fell below the standard expected of a reasonably competent and skilful medical specialist of the type who treated you and that, as a result, you suffered a loss or injury.  To do this, we obtain independent medical evidence from an expert in the appropriate area of medicine.

Step 5 - Establishing the effect of the breach of duty

We have to establish whether the sub-standard treatment you received is likely to have led to your injury or loss. As this can be difficult to establish, you may need to see one or more medical experts who will assess your current condition and what the future holds for you.

Step 6 - Calculating the value of your claim

The value of your claim comprises:

  • general damages for the pain, suffering and impact of the negligence on your daily life both now and in the future
  • actual financial losses such as loss of earnings, cost of care, medical and travel expenses.

Step 7 - Proving your loss

You need to keep all original financial documents safe as these will be needed when we prepare your case to go to Court. These documents include accounts, payslips, and receipts for expenses and medical treatments.

Step 8 - Preparing your case for Court

Although only a small number of cases proceed to a trial, we prepare every case for this eventuality.

Step 9 - Attending the trial in Court

The trial takes place before a Circuit or High Court judge who will make a decision based on the evidence we have prepared.

Step 10 - Awarding your compensation claim

If you win your case, the amount of compensation will be decided by negotiation with the defendant or, if your case goes to trial, by the judge. The defendant will usually be ordered to pay us the costs we have incurred in preparing your case. We will also agree a date by which your compensation will be paid to us so that we can pay your compensation as quickly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim for meningitis misdiagnosis?

If you’ve been affected by undiagnosed meningitis you may be able to make a claim for compensation, reflecting the suffering it has caused.

In order to be successful you will need to demonstrate that medical professionals let you down and had an opportunity to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Evidence used to support misdiagnosed meningitis cases are varied, reflecting the numerous ways that it can occur. From doctor misdiagnosed meningitis due to missing the early symptoms to test results being read inaccurately, there are many forms of medical negligence that you may be able to take a compensation claim forward for.

In a failure to diagnose claim you will also need to prove that a delayed or misdiagnosis resulted in undue suffering. Again, this can take multiple forms and vary from case to case. If you’ve had meningitis you could show how the long-term complications of the conditions, such as needing to have a limb amputated, have had an impact on your life. Other areas that compensation cases cover include loss of earnings and travel expenses.

Can I claim for meningitis if a loved one has been affected?

Yes, you can make a medical negligence claim on the behalf of a loved on in some cases. If, for example, a GP misdiagnosis of meningitis was fatal or caused long-term effects, such as brain damage, for your child, you may be able to make a claim against those responsible.

In these cases, you still need to prove that those responsible for the care of your loved one were negligent, leading to serious consequences.

How much compensation will I get?

As with all medical negligence claims, meningitis claims vary from case to case and it’s impossible to say how much compensation your individual case could be worth without fully understanding your experiences.

However, compensation can amount to thousands and every year the NHS pays out millions to those affected by negligence. If you want to learn how much your case could be worth, our team of expert solicitors are on hand to listen to your case and help you understand. We’ll take a range of factors into consideration, from the impact a misdiagnosis has had on your quality of life to the cost of ongoing care, before putting a value on your case. As a result, the compensation you could receive for a meningitis misdiagnosis will depend on your own experiences.

How can compensation help me after meningitis misdiagnosis?

We know that after you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed with meningitis, taking on a compensation claim can be the last thing you want to do. But it can help you move forward.

Misdiagnosed meningitis can lead to serious, long-term conditions, such as brain damage, hearing and vision loss, or the loss of a limb. In these cases, compensation can help those affected by medical negligence cover outgoings such as long-term care, adapting their home, and further medical treatment that could improve their quality of life. If successful the financial compensation can also help alleviate other money concerns, allowing those affected to focus on recovering.

Many of those affected by medical negligence also want to know why they were let down. Meningitis misdiagnosis claims can help those better understand what happened.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

How long do I have to make a claim?

All medical negligence claims are subject to a three-year time limit. If you would like to make a claim for meningitis misdiagnosis compensation you must do so within this timeframe.

The time limit starts from the ‘date of knowledge’ this refers to the point that you first realised that medical negligence had occurred. If you’ve been misdiagnosed this can be some time after you first visited your GP with concerns. If you’re unsure how long you have left to make a claim, our meningitis misdiagnosis lawyers can use their skills to help pinpoint when the date of knowledge occurred.

The exception to the time limit is if you’re taking a claim forward for misdiagnosed meningitis that happened when you were under the age of 18. In this case you have three years to take a case forward against those responsible from the date of your 18th birthday.

While you do have up to three years to make a claim, we recommend that where possible you start the process sooner. This means that evidence to support your case are often easier to obtain and the details are easier to recall, which can then be included in your witness statement.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It’s a serious condition that can be fatal and lead to life altering conditions and, as a result, the consequences of late meningitis diagnosis can be dire.

The condition can affect anyone but is more common in babies, young children, teenagers, and young adults. If left untreated for an extended period of time, meningitis can cause blood poisoning, also known as septicaemia, and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves and, in some cases, death. The need to treat meningitis quickly means that failure to diagnose meningitis could mean patients have a right to claim compensation.

What causes meningitis?

Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. There are several different viruses that can cause meningitis and vaccinations are routinely given to protect against many of those that cause meningitis. Among the viruses and bacteria that may cause meningitis are:

  • Meningococcal bacteria
  • Pneumococcal bacteria
  • Haemophilus influenza type b bacteria
  • Enteroviruses
  • Mumps virus
  • Herpes simplex virus

When you come into contact with these viruses or bacteria they only develop into meningitis in very rare circumstances. However, the causes of meningitis can spread like many other viruses and bacteria – through sneezing, coughing, kissing, and sharing utensils, cutlery, or toothbrushes.

What are the different types of meningitis?

There are many different strains of meningitis in the UK and each may need to be treated differently. The most common forms are viral and bacterial. While viral meningitis rarely causes long-term problems, and will usually get better on its own within 10 days through home treatments, bacterial meningitis can lead to serious, long-term complication if left untreated.

Types of meningitis include:

  • Meningococcal disease
  • Pneumococcal meningitis
  • TB meningitis
  • Group B streptococcal
  • Hib meningitis
  • Fungal meningitis

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

The most widely recognised symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it. Initially the rash will look like small, red pinpricks but will spread to form blotches. When a rash fails to fade when firmly pressed under a glass, it signals that it is caused by septicaemia. While the rash is most commonly associated with meningitis, it isn’t always present.

According to the NHS, other symptoms of meningitis include:

  • A temperature over 37.5C
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Irritability and a lack of energy
  • A headache
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Breathing quickly
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale, mottled skin
  • A stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • A dislike of bright lights
  • Drowsiness
  • Fits (seizures)

While rare, meningitis does more commonly affect young people, including babies. Signs of meningitis in infants include:

  • Refusal to feed
  • Being agitated and not wanting to be picked up
  • Having a bulging soft spot on their head
  • Being floppy or unresponsive
  • Having an unusual high-pitched cry
  • Having a stiff body

In order to achieve an accurate and quick diagnosis, it’s recommended that people that have health concerns for themselves or their child call 999 or visit an A&E department. In some cases, a delay in diagnosis of meningitis can lead to serious and potentially life threatening symptoms and conditions.

How is meningitis treated?

The treatment you are recommended for meningitis will depend on whether it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection.

In most cases of viral meningitis, it can be treated at home and patients will make a recovery within 10 days, through resting, taking general painkillers, and anti-sickness medication.

Bacterial meningitis can prove far more serious. The condition can cause long-term effects and needs to be closely monitored in a hospital setting for up to several weeks. Treatment options for meningitis may include:

  • Antibiotics given directly into a vein
  • Fluids delivered by IV to prevent dehydration
  • Oxygen through a face mask if breathing difficulties were a symptom

Steroid medication to help reduce swelling around the brain if necessary

How can meningitis be misdiagnosed?

There are several ways that meningitis can be misdiagnosed both when a patient visits a GP or attends hospital. A missed meningitis diagnosis or misdiagnosis can occur through:

  • A doctor or other medical professional failing to recognise the signs of meningitis
  • Symptoms of meningitis being attributed to other conditions
  • A failure to send a patient for necessary tests or refer them to a hospital
  • The results of a test being read inaccurately or present abnormalities not being followed up

If you or a loved one has been affected by a wrong meningitis diagnosis, you may be able to make a compensation claim to reflect the suffering and long-term implications it has caused. Meningitis misdiagnosis cases highlight the seriousness of medical professionals missing the initial signs and symptoms of the condition and failing to act in the necessary manner.

For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today  0808 301 8622    As seen on TV

What conditions can meningitis be misdiagnosed as?

There are a range of other health conditions that can appear similar the symptoms of meningitis, resulting in the misdiagnosis of meningitis. Case studies of misdiagnosis of meningitis have shown the condition being mistaken for:

  • Chest infections
  • Stomach bug
  • Flu
  • Viral illnesses
  • Migraines

What are the effects of misdiagnosed meningitis?

The effects of a delay in meningitis diagnosis can be devastating and the longer there is a failure to accurately diagnose, the worse it can be.

In the case of viral meningitis, there are rarely any long-term problems associated with the condition. However, bacterial meningitis must be treated quickly and serious, life-altering conditions can arise from meningitis misdiagnosis in some circumstances. 

Across all bacterial meningitis cases, around 10% are fatal. Long-term problems are more likely to occur if there is a delayed diagnosis of meningitis and delay in treatment being delivered. Long-term consequences of bacterial meningitis, may include:

  • Hearing or vision loss, that can be partial or total
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Recurrent seizures
  • Co-ordination, movement, and balance problems
  • Brain damage
  • Loss of limbs due to the need for the amputation of affected limbs

If you or a loved one has been affected by the long-term impacts of meningitis due to medical negligence, you may be able to make a misdiagnosed meningitis lawsuit forward to hold those responsible to account. The results of meningitis misdiagnosis claims can help those affected to move past the experience, cover financial outgoings, and improve their quality of life.

How often is meningitis misdiagnosed?

There aren’t any specific figures for the meningitis misdiagnosis statistics but it has previously been estimated that doctors were making mistakes in up to 15% of cases. One of the most common reasons for this was medical professionals judging a patient’s symptoms too quickly. With a condition as serious as meningitis, misdiagnosis can have distressing consequences.

Cases of misdiagnosis of meningitis

There are examples of misdiagnosed meningitis stories that demonstrate how the condition can be mistaken for other conditions or dismissed. Recent misdiagnosed meningitis cases that have appeared in the news include:

  • A meningitis victim was awarded £3.2 million in misdiagnosis of meningitis compensation after delays in treatment left him severely brain damaged. Read more.
  • A disabled female patient died of meningitis after a doctor diagnosed a fatal ear infection as a ‘tantrum’. Read more.
  • One boy that was left severely brain damaged after a GP misdiagnosed his serious condition. He was awarded £15 million following a meningitis misdiagnosis lawsuit. Read more.
  • A fatal case of meningitis being misdiagnosed as a chest infection in a 2-year-old child. Read more.
  • Wrong diagnosis meningitis has also occurred when a child was misdiagnosed as having chickenpox. Read more.
  • A team GB athlete dying after a junior doctor failed to recognise the signs of meningitis, instead linking symptoms to stomach pains. Read more.
  • A girl being misdiagnosed as having a stomach bug, when she had bacterial meningitis. Read more.

Meningitis misdiagnosis stories highlight the various ways that medical negligence can occur and the impacts that a delay can have on the patient and their prognosis.

What are the statistics of meningitis?

According to the Meningitis Research Foundation, it’s estimated that around 3,200 people get bacterial meningitis and associated septicaemia every year in the UK. This type of the condition is fatal in around 10% of cases and a quick diagnosis and treatment delivery are vital for increasing the chance of a full recovery following the infection.