Medical malpractice

Failure To Diagnose Meningitis

October 16, 2017 by James McHugh, Jr.
Failure To Diagnose Meningitis

Every year, thousands of people develop meningitis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when there is inflammation of the membranes in the spine and brain. Meningitis can be caused by a variety of things, including infections and viruses; but an early diagnosis is the key to treating meningitis successfully. Time is of the essence with meningitis, so when a doctor fails to diagnose the condition, it could cost the patient his or her life.

Although anyone can develop meningitis, young people are particularly susceptible. Meningitis can be contracted when young people live in close quarters like in dormitories, sharing eating utensils and drinks, or by having close contact with an infected individual. In addition to young adults, children under the age of five are also highly susceptible to developing meningitis.

In its early stages, meningitis can present very generic symptoms. Patients can suffer from chills, a high fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms are often confused with the common cold or stomach flu. However, doctors should always carefully examine each patient and should never rush to a diagnosis without considering all possible diagnoses.

While meningitis does present generic symptoms, it also displays some more specific symptoms. These symptoms include: opisthotonos, a muscle spasm that causes the patient to hold their head and neck arched backwards, rapid breathing, decreased consciousness, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, and mental status changes. These symptoms are not associated with a cold or the flu, and should be a red flag for doctors.

Meningitis can be easily diagnosed with medical tests like a spinal tap, blood culture, chest x-ray, CT scan of the head, and other laboratory tests. When a patient displays meningitis-like symptoms, doctors should order one or more of these tests to confirm a diagnosis.

When a doctor fails to diagnose meningitis, this can be a fatal mistake. Should the patient survive, a failure to diagnose can also cause permanent injuries like brain damage, hearing loss, or amputations.

Failure to Diagnose Meningitis Attorneys 

If a doctor in Pennsylvania failed to diagnose meningitis, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. The failure to diagnose meningitis attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP can help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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