Rhode Island Medical Malpractice – Failure to Diagnose Meningitis
Of all the medical malpractice events that occur daily in the United States, one of the most serious is the failure to properly diagnose meningitis. Meningitis is a bacteria or viral infection that causes the membranes and fluid surround the brain and spinal cord to inflame and expand which can lead to serious complications which includes loss of limbs and even death.
A bacterial infection is the most dangerous and over 66% of all cases affect children under the age of five years old. Almost 500 people die every year from bacterial meningitis and many who survive suffer from brain damage, lifelong seizures, loss of limbs, deadness, and a host of other conditions if not treated in time.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Those who suffer from bacterial meningitis will first complain about being lethargic and having a fever, symptoms that to most people might signal a flu or other, less serious condition. As the meningitis progresses, the symptoms will worsen to include becoming very sleepy, sensitivity to light, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and more. Bruises will start to develop under the skin and spread quickly as the infection starts to ravage the body.
It is the early symptoms of meningitis which mimic in certain ways the onset of the flu that may stop many emergency room physicians from performing a spinal tap which is the proper way to diagnose whether meningitis is present. To wait for additional symptoms to develop can be deadly as the bacterial infection will spread quite quickly.
Unfortunately, there are many patients who are misdiagnosed with the flu and released from the hospital, only to return later with more serious symptoms and being too late to prevent possible brain damage and death. Had the physician taken the extra time to perform a spinal tap and have the fluid analyzed, treatments could begin immediately which would stop the bacteria in its tracks before the deadly swelling the tissues around the brain and spinal cord could begin.
In terms of the medical malpractice associated with meningitis, the misdiagnosis is the most common. However, there are also malpractice cases where the bacterial infection was not properly treated. In the case of bacterial meningitis, the proper treatment is the identification and then destruction of the specific type of bacteria that is causing the meningitis to occur. Failing to treat it properly is a case for medical malpractice.
It should be noted that not all misdiagnosis or failure to treat properly falls under medical malpractice. This is because it will depend on the circumstances of the case itself. For example, a new type of bacteria that causes the meningitis which is resistant to traditional treatments may be considered beyond the physician’s ability to properly treat.
It will require expert testimony based on the events that occurred in the emergency room in order to establish that medical malpractice did occur. This will mean establishing whether the physician saw the symptoms, ordered the spinal tap, and delivered the proper treatment. If one or more of these steps did not occur in a timely manner, then the physician is subject to a medical malpractice suit with the hospital paying the potential damages.
Vincent D. Morgera is the top Warwick, Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Lawyer.
For help with your Rhode Island Medical Malpractice lawsuit, please call: 401-456-0300.