Meningitis – The fatal risk of mismanagement


Meningitis and Septicaemia are deadly diseases that can kill within hours of the first symptoms. If you do recover it can drastically alter your life, leaving you with devastating and catastrophic injuries such as amputation, limb deformities, severe scaring and tissue loss, loss of sight and hearing, epilepsy, poor coordination and brain damage.

Medical Treatment

It is essential that there is no delay in recognising and treating this disease as delays in treatment increase the risk of long-term damage.

If you or a member of your family have suffered due to the negligence of a medical professional then you could be entitled to claim compensation and should consult with a solicitor to discuss your legal options.

What is Meningitis?

There are a number of different types of meningitis such as viral and bacterial. However, the two major forms of meningococcal disease are meningitis and septicaemia. Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together but can and do occur separately. Meningococcal disease is a medical emergency.

  • Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord
  • Septicaemia is a blood poisoning form of the disease

Symptoms of Meningitis

  • Fever/High temperature
  • Headache
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Fitting
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia) – this is less common in young children
  • Neck stiffness – this is also less common in young children
  • Tense/bulging fontanelle in babies

Symptoms of Septicaemia

  • Fever
  • Rigors (shivering)
  • Aches/limb pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms – vomiting, nausea and poor appetite. In some cases abdominal pain and diarrhoea
  • Weakness
  • Rash – a rapidly developing
  • Low urine out put
  • Cold hands and feet/mottled skin


Treatment for meningitis will depend on the cause of the illness, but in the majority of cases antibiotics will be given intravenously and will commence immediately and will be continued if medical tests confirm that this is the bacterial form of the disease. It is very important that treatment is given quickly and correctly.

How does a medical negligence claim arise?

Cases often arise because General Practitioners do not recognise symptoms and fail to refer children immediately to hospital with catastrophic consequences.

Once at the hospital there may be a delay between triage and assessment by the doctor. The doctor in the Accident and Emergency Department may fail to take an adequate assessment and fail to refer the child to the paediatric team in a timely manner. It may be the case that the treating Paediatric doctor may be a junior doctor who does not clearly understand the difference between septicaemia and meningitis resulting in a fatal outcome. Or, the resuscitation may be slow and inadequate.

How can we help you?

If you, or a member of your family, have suffered from meningitis that was misdiagnosed or the treatment that you received was delayed or inappropriate, then you have the right to pursue a claim.

At Simpson Millar we recognise the devastating, and in some cases fatal, effect that the failure to diagnose meningococcal disease or a delay in specialist treatment can have. We understand and recognise the importance of compensation as it can greatly improve quality of life for you and your family and provide the care and security that is needed.

If you would like to talk to a member of our specialist team then please contact us for a confidential and free discussion today.

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