How Is Meningitis Missed?

October 4, 2016 by Carrie Capouellez
failure to diagnose meningitis

Meningitis is an incredibly serious infection that affects thousands of Americans each year. Without appropriate medical treatment, meningitis can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Time is of the essence when treating meningitis, so a doctor’s failure to diagnose meningitis can cause disastrous complications for the patient.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is the swelling of the brain and spinal cord membranes. While meningitis can be caused by a variety of factors, bacteria commonly cause it. Infections that cause bacterial meningitis can cause death in as little as a few hours.

Bacterial meningitis is spread from person to person via an exchange of respiratory and throat secretions during close or lengthy contact. Eating contaminated food can also spread bacterial meningitis. As with other types of infections, some individuals can carry bacteria without experiencing symptoms themselves, so the source of the bacteria that causes meningitis is sometimes hard to determine.

Signs of Meningitis

While many symptoms of meningitis are generic, they can often be identified by how quickly they manifest. The signs of bacterial meningitis usually develop within three to seven days after exposure and can appear quickly or over the course of several days.

Common meningitis symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Who Is Most At Risk?

While anyone can contract bacterial meningitis, some populations are at a higher risk than others. Newborn babies and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to bacterial meningitis and can suffer devastating injuries. For pregnant women, bacterial meningitis can cause miscarriages, stillbirth, premature delivery, and the infection can spread to the unborn child.

How Does A Failure To Diagnose Meningitis Happen?

Sometimes meningitis is misdiagnosed as the flu or a simple cold. When a doctor doesn’t take the symptoms of meningitis seriously, patients can be sent home without receiving the necessary care. Additionally, patients might only experience some of the common meningitis symptoms, or may experience abnormal symptoms, but regardless of the symptoms, meningitis can be confirmed with a blood test or by testing cerebrospinal fluid.

Philadelphia Meningitis Lawyers

If a doctor in Pennsylvania failed to diagnose meningitis, and you or a loved one suffered as a result, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Contact the meningitis lawyers at Lopez McHugh LLP today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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