Meningitis FAQs - A Guide To Understanding The Risks
The Law Of… Surviving Meningitis
Meningitis is a potentially fatal disease that, in its most virulent form, requires immediate medical attention. Daxa Patel, a Medical Negligence Partner at Simpson Millar, answers the frequently asked questions regarding a notorious and deadly infection. One that can have catastrophic consequences for the patient involved.
What Is Meningitis?
Meningitis occurs when the protective layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord, known as meninges, become enflamed. This is caused by germs entering the body and infecting those delicate membranes.
The two main types of meningitis in the UK result from either viral or bacterial infections.
What Is Viral Meningtis?
Viral meningitis is the lesser of two evils. It is rarely life-threatening and seldom contagious but presents similar symptoms to the bacterial form of the condition. The majority of patients go on to make a full recovery, although some are left with resulting after effects such as memory loss or exhaustion.
What Is Bacterial Meningitis?
Bacterial meningitis is a much more serious condition and if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can kill. Prompt admission to hospital is required to mitigate the effects of this potentially fatal form of the condition.
What Are The Symptoms Of Meningitis?
Meningitis has a tendency to develop without warning; its symptoms manifesting quickly and with a rapid degree of debilitation.
The symptoms of meningitis can include:
- Stiff neck
- Aversion to light
- Leg pain
- Feverish temperature
A rash that doesn't fade when pressure is applied to it (usually with a glass) is also an indicator of meningitis, although this does not always manifest.
Who Can Catch Meningitis?
Anybody, regardless of age, can develop meningitis, but children under 5 and young people in the 15 to 19 age bracket are most likely to suffer from the disease. Elderly people and those with weakened immune systems are also more vulnerable to contracting meningitis.
The condition is mostly spread through contact with a carrier – somebody who is carrying the disease but isn't ill with it themselves. It can be transferred in similar ways to a cold, such as sneezing, coughing and kissing.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Meningitis?
If you or a loved one is feeling extremely and suddenly ill and displaying any of the symptoms associated with meningitis, there is a possibility that you or they have the disease.
If this is the case you should seek immediate medical attention, either by calling an ambulance or going to your local Accident & Emergency department. The NHS advises that you trust your instinct and do not wait for a rash to develop. It could save your life.
What Complications Can Arise From Meningitis?
Aside from the potential to kill, meningitis can also have a range of life-changing after effects that can be seriously detrimental to your quality of life. These include:
- Memory loss and associated cognitive issues such as difficulty in concentrating or retaining information
- A lack of coordination
- Blindness or blurred vision
- Deafness and problems with balance
- Headaches and seizures
- Paralysis, muscle fatigue or lack of energy
- Speech problems.
In some cases the after effects of meningitis are permanent; in others they are only temporary. Recovery time for temporary issues varies from patient to patient.
Why Is It Important To Seek Immediate Medical Attention For Meningitis?
Where the bacterial strain of the disease is diagnosed, 10% of all cases result in death. It also causes more fatalities in the under-5 age group than any other infectious disease.
Even the ordinarily less serious strain of viral meningitis can have life-changing consequences as a result of its after effects.
Meningitis can kill within hours, so the sooner it is diagnosed and treatment begins, the greater the chances of survival and full recovery.
What If Meningitis Was Misdiagnosed Or Treatment Delayed?
If the symptoms of meningitis were missed, delaying your treatment and leading to further complications, health problems or disability, you may be entitled to compensation.
If the failure to diagnose and treat meningitis in a timely manner led to the death of your child or another family member, you may be able to make a claim on their behalf.
To find out whether you have grounds for a case, contact Simpson Millar today.
Why Should I Make a Claim?
Making a successful medical negligence claim for meningitis will:
- Provide you with a financial settlement that can help you cope with any ongoing physical or emotional problems the condition may have caused
- Help to increase awareness of meningitis and the errors that led to your claim, preventing them from being repeated.
How Do I Make A Compensation Claim For Meningitis?
To make a compensation claim for meningitis, you should seek legal advice from a law firm, such as Simpson Millar, with a specialist Medical Negligence Department capable of handling complex cases of this nature.
They will provide the guidance you need to start and pursue your claim.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim For Meningitis?
You have 3 years from either the date your condition was diagnosed, or from when the adverse effects it has led to were discovered, to make your claim.
If your child was affected, this 3 year limitation does not start until their 18th birthday. Until then, you must make the claim on their behalf. If your child is classed as a Protected Party and lacks the capacity to conduct proceedings, the 3 year limitation will not apply.
What Do I Do Next?
If, due to medical negligence, you believe your meningitis was allowed to get worse or led to debilitating after effects, you should speak to an independent and professional solicitor.
Simpson Millar's medical negligence team has both the experience and expertise in this field, ensuring you get the compensation you are entitled to.