Doctors take an oath to “do no harm.” Yet, too often, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals fail in their duty by misdiagnosing serious ailments like meningitis, a potentially fatal condition.
If you or someone you love suffered harm as the result of meningitis misdiagnosis on the part of an Indianapolis-area medical professional, you could be entitled to financial compensation. However, getting this compensation means navigating the complicated laws regarding medical malpractice claims in Indiana.
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we have considerable experience in this particular field of personal injury law. In fact, medical malpractice is all we do. Our singular focus gives us the insight, skill, resources, and industry connections to help you pursue your claim to the fullest.
Contact us today for a free consultation with an Indianapolis meningitis misdiagnosis lawyer, and find out what we can do for you.
What Is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes called meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord. It can strike anyone at any age, but some people are particularly vulnerable, including children, expectant mothers, and people with a weakened immune system. Meningitis can be fatal if not correctly detected and treated right away.
Common Types of Meningitis
In the U.S., most reported cases of meningitis stem from viral infections. But bacteria, parasites, and fungi can also cause the illness.
Bacterial meningitis is the most serious form and is life-threatening if not treated quickly. Bacteria enter the body from sinus or ear infections or droplets via coughing and sneezing from an infected person. Affected people should start on antibiotics as soon as possible.
Viral meningitis, as the name implies, comes from viruses. Viral meningitis is more common and usually less severe, but the prognosis depends on the person’s health profile.
Fungal meningitis is uncommon and mainly affects people with weakened immune systems. It is spread through the inhalation of fungal spores, so it is not contagious like other forms of meningitis. Doctors treat infected people with antifungal medication, which can take several months to resolve.
Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis
Some meningitis symptoms are similar to other medical conditions, so patients and family members should be vigilant for the signs. Symptoms may develop quickly over several hours or can take a few days.
For adults and children over the age of two, common symptoms include:
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sleepiness or trouble waking
- Sensitivity to light
- No appetite or thirst
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Skin rash
Symptoms can be harder to detect in children under the age of two and newborns. They include:
- High fever
- Constant crying, even when held
- Being very sleepy or having trouble waking from sleep
- Poor feeding or not waking to eat
- A bulge in the soft spot on top of the head
- Stiffness in the neck and body
- Being inactive or sluggish
Medical Malpractice in Meningitis Cases
Meningitis is a medical emergency. Any delay in diagnosis or inappropriate treatment can have severe consequences, ranging from permanent neurological damage to death. Our meningitis misdiagnosis attorney in Indianapolis can help determine if medical malpractice was a factor in a patient’s illness or death.
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis of Meningitis
Meningitis symptoms can sometimes mimic those of less severe conditions, such as the flu or a migraine. These can include headache, fever, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light. Because of these similarities, medical professionals might mistakenly rule out meningitis as a potential cause.
A delayed diagnosis can result in severe complications or even death. Every moment counts, especially in the case of bacterial meningitis, which can quickly become fatal if not treated immediately. The longer a patient goes untreated, the greater the likelihood of permanent brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.
Failure to Treat Meningitis
Even when doctors correctly identify meningitis, there can be pitfalls in the treatment process. The recommended course of treatment varies depending on the type of meningitis, and administering the wrong treatment can cause irreparable harm.
For example, viral meningitis is usually treated by symptom relief only. But if the patient is actually suffering from bacterial meningitis, a failure to administer antibiotics could prove fatal. There is a small window for effective intervention, particularly in vulnerable individuals. Any delay or error can have lasting repercussions.
Improper Management of a Meningitis Case
Managing a meningitis case involves more than correctly diagnosing and administering treatment. Medical providers should know how improper management could worsen conditions or create new complications. Proper management of a meningitis case should include:
- Monitoring to track the disease’s progression and gauge the effectiveness of treatment
- Follow-up care, including rehabilitation or additional medication
- Educating the patient and their family on the importance of treatment and potential risks if untreated
What Do You Need to Prove in a Meningitis Misdiagnosis Case?
Medical professionals must provide their patients with care that meets the generally accepted standards of the broader medical community. When they fail to do so and harm a patient, the patient or their surviving family can hold the medical professional liable for malpractice. By doing so, they can demand financial compensation for the harm the professional caused, including additional medical bills, lost wages and earning potential, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life.
To prove that a meningitis misdiagnosis amounted to medical malpractice, you must establish that:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor deviated from the generally accepted course of treatment.
- Their deviation harmed you.
- You suffered specific losses as a result.
Navigating a medical malpractice claim can be challenging due to the specialized nature of medical care and the high burden of proof in such cases. Our Indianapolis meningitis misdiagnosis lawyer at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson has the experience and resources to work with medical experts to determine a breach of medical duty, identify liable parties, and demand compensation for you.
Contact The Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson to See How We Can Help
A meningitis misdiagnosis can bring tragic consequences. If you believe a doctor or medical provider harmed you or a loved one, call our Indianapolis meningitis misdiagnosis attorney immediately. At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, medical malpractice claims are all we do, which gives us the tools you can count on in this difficult time.
Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.