Maybe you went to the emergency room or your normal primary care doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms, a headache, and neck pain, only to be told you had the flu. Later, however, it was discovered that it was meningitis.
Doctors have been known to mistake the symptoms of meningitis for the flu, which can lead to delayed treatment. When meningitis isn’t treated in its early stages, it is quite possible for someone to develop a life-threatening condition. Unfortunately, a serious brain injury or death may be the result of a doctor failing to diagnosis and treat meningitis.
What Is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection that can produce dangerous inflammation affecting the meninges (the membranes surrounding the brain). When inflammation occurs, it can result in the rapid onset of:
- a severe headache
- sensitivity to light
- a stiff neck
Meningitis is typically caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can affect anyone from children to elderly adults. Children under age two, college students who live in dormitories, adults with a weak immune system, and seniors are at an increased risk for getting meningitis. Also, people who travel to foreign countries where the disease is present are at high risk for contracting the disease.
Meningitis and Medical Malpractice
When patients complain of the symptoms listed above, doctors have a duty to provide a standard level of care which includes performing a physical exam and asking questions of a patient that would help them determine an accurate diagnosis. When meningitis is even suspected, doctors are expected to conduct certain tests, which can include a blood culture, x-ray, MRI, and CT scan.
When doctors fail to diagnosis and treat meningitis in a timely manner, the infection can travel through the bloodstream to the brain. This can lead to a stroke and even death, but the common outcome of a delay in treatment is neurological damage—from partial and total deafness to severe brain damage.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a doctor’s delay in diagnosis of meningitis, you need to talk with a lawyer who has experience with medical malpractice lawsuits. To learn your rights and how to pursue a legal claim, contact us for a free consultation at (703) 721-4233.