Bacterial meningitis is an extremely dangerous and contagious infection that can cause coma, brain damage, paralysis, mental retardation, hearing loss, and death. It makes up about 80% of cases of meningitis in the United States. Most people recover without issues. It can be cured with simple antibiotics, but the diagnosis must be made quickly to avoid life-altering consequences.
Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis
Meningitis involves an infection in the membranes, or meninges, which surround the spinal cord and brain. In severe cases there may be visible swelling of the head and/or neck. The early symptoms are very similar to those of influenza–high fever, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting, sometimes causing misdiagnosis; the characteristic severe headache and stiff neck may also cause doctors to misdiagnose meningitis as migraine.
Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, confusion, and sensitivity to light. Meningitis can be caused by a virus or one of several common bacteria, usually meningococcus, haemophilus influenzae type b, pneumococcus, or streptococcus Group B.
When a patient presents with high fever, stiff neck, and headache, bacterial meningitis should always be considered a possibility. A spinal tap should be performed and antibiotics administered while waiting for the test results to come back, because any delay in treatment can cause irreversible problems. The antibiotic may be modified to target the specific bacterium which caused the infection once it is identified.
Who is Most at Risk for Bacterial Meningitis?
If left untreated, bacterial meningitis nearly always results in death. Nearly 500 people die of bacterial meningitis every year, many of them children. Infants between 1 and 2 months old are the most susceptible to bacterial meningitis, followed by people living in close quarters such as college students and people living in military barracks.
It can spread quickly through close quarters on people who may not be ill but are carriers of the germs, through sharing of saliva or sneezing and coughing in close quarters, or even though contaminated food.
Many deaths caused by bacterial meningitis could be avoided by prompt diagnosis and treatment. Physicians who misdiagnose and mistreat patients with meningitis may be subject to a medical malpractice claim for their negligence. It's very important to understand, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your physician had to have been grossly negligent by not diagnosing meningitis. This can be extremely difficult to prove in a medical malpractice case.
Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe you may have a Florida medical malpractice claim you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, in order to comply with Florida’s pre-suit investigation requirements, and the strict time limits involved. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Even if we are unable to take on your case, we always do our best to suggest other attorneys who can assist you.
It's important to keep in mind, in order to have a solid medical malpractice claim your doctor or surgeon must have been negligent in performing their services or diagnosis. Not every case will qualify as medical malpractice.