Meningitis and Malpractice: When Should a Person Be Tested for this Condition?

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Young woman physician with stethoscope prescribing treatmentWhen flu season begins, most people assume that any passing illness is a result of whatever bug is going around. When the symptoms don’t go away, a trip to the family doctor is often warranted.

While often confused a garden variety cold or flu, bacterial meningitis is a deadly disease which comes on quickly and needs immediate intervention. Unfortunately, many doctors assume that a person with a headache, fever, fatigue, and nausea is overreacting and will get better in time. When that doctor fails to check for bacterial meningitis, the results can be tragic.

One of the most common reasons medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against pediatricians and emergency room doctors is because of a failure to correctly diagnosis meningitis. This bacteria attacks the central nervous system, and can lead to brain damage, coma and death if not detected early. In addition, long-term consequences of the disease can include hearing loss, mental problems, seizures, and paralysis.

When a patient presents in the emergency room or the doctor’s office with flu-like symptoms, doctors should be careful to rule out meningitis. These infections are especially common in infants, children, and young adults under 30, but can strike people of any age.

The main distinguishing factor between bacterial meningitis and the flu is the presence of severe neck pain or a stiff neck. A patient with meningitis may not be able to turn his or her head, and the neck may be painful to the touch. When the patient reports these symptoms, or reports being exposed to others with meningitis, a doctor has a responsibility to order further testing.

If meningitis is suspected, the doctor will likely order a spinal tap. Though this test is painful, the presence of bacteria in the spinal fluid is a clear indicator of the type of meningitis affecting the patient. Once doctors know which strain of the bacteria is affecting the patient, the doctor can order the proper medication.

Bacterial meningitis is easily treatable with antibiotics, but the antibiotics must target the correct strain of bacteria and the disease must be caught early before it causes permanent damage.

Many doctors, whether due to inexperience, time pressures, or simple arrogance, never think to check for bacterial meningitis. When injuries are caused by a doctor’s failure to thoroughly examine and diagnose a patient, the result is often a medical malpractice lawsuit.

At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our attorneys help people injured by diagnosis errors or mistakes. If you were injured by medical negligence or malpractice, our experienced staff of legal and medical professionals can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights.

If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney, contact Dr. Bradley I. Kramer, Esq. today by calling (310) 289-2600 or use our online case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.

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