Meningitis, often referred to as spinal meningitis, is a serious infection of spinal cord fluid along with other fluids surrounding the brain. Most individuals contract the disease through a bacterial or viral infection. Its severity and the damage it causes are dependent on whether the cause was a bacteria or virus.
High-Risk Groups Who May Be Exposed To Meningitis
On average, nearly 3,000 individuals in the United States contract meningitis every year. Young adults and adolescents have a higher risk of becoming infected. Statistics by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), indicate that more than one out of every 10 cases of spinal meningitis caused by bacteria are fatal, representing approximately 400 to 500 deaths every year. One out of every five survivors suffers significant long-term consequences including kidney disease, brain damage, loss of hearing, and/or loss of limbs.
College students tend to be a high-risk group, especially freshman living in college dorms. This is due to exposure and vulnerability to meningitis bacteria and viruses. Contracting the disease can often be the result of lifestyle factors including crowded residential conditions in dormitories, moving to a new geographical area, sharing beverages and/or utensils, passive or active smoking, along with irregular sleeping habits.
High-risk groups other than college students and adolescents include young children, infants, traveling military personnel, home care providers and refugees.
Spinal meningitis acquired through a viral infection is typically less severe than bacteria caused meningitis, and is often cured without the need of a specific treatment. Alternatively, bacterial meningitis can be very serious, and result in extensive brain damage, learning disability, hearing loss or death.
In many cases, it can take a month or longer for meningitis symptoms to surface after exposure to the virus or bacteria. Most individuals will experience a variety of symptoms. These include:
- Chills and fever
- Dizziness and hallucinations
- Blurred vision
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of balance
- Neck stiffness
- Slurred speech
- Noticeable changes of mental state
- Light sensitivity (photophobia)
- Intense headaches
If left untreated, the condition is nearly always fatal. Meningitis mimics flulike symptoms and requires the diagnostic skills of a competent medical professional to identify the problem accurately. This often requires referring the patient to a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). If left untreated, bacterial meningitis can lead to a variety of medical issues including:
- Permanent brain damage
- Loss of hearing
- Mental retardation
Bacterial meningitis can occur from an exposure to a variety of bacteria that affect different high-risk groups. More than 80 percent of all severe meningitis cases caused by an infection are the result of exposure to the following four bacteria. These include:
- Group B strep bacteria in newborns
- Hemophilus influenza Type B bacteria in infants
- Meninggococcus bacteria (primarily in young adults)
- Pneumococcus bacteria (primarily in adults)
When aggressively treated, using powerful antibiotics, the disease is usually curable. However, any failure to diagnose meningitis, or any delay in diagnosing and treating the spinal meningitis could cause serious injury or possibly death. Doctors that are neglectful could be liable in a medical malpractice case, and held financially responsible for the injuries or death caused to the patient.
Legal Recourse When a Medical Facility Fails To Diagnose & Treat a Patient With Meningitis
Individuals that believe that they suffered significant injuries due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose meningitis and treat the condition properly can file a medical malpractice claim against the responsible parties. In addition, family members that have lost a loved one to spinal meningitis have the legal right to seek financial recompense if neglectful actions by the medical staff caused their death.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handle medical malpractice cases involving a failure to diagnose meningitis or delayed/wrong treatment are usually successful in obtaining financial compensation. The recompense will cover a variety of expenses including medical bills, lost earnings due to missed work, funeral expenses, pain, anguish and suffering.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers offer a free initial no-obligation consultation to discuss a variety of legal options. Every potential case is reviewed, evaluated, prepared and filed on behalf of the client for a contingency fee. This means no out-of-pocket expenses are paid up front, and no attorney costs are involved unless the law firm obtains a recovery in an out-of-court settlement, or through a monetary award at the conclusion of a successful lawsuit. Call the attorneys at (888) 424-5757 to discuss the case.