Bacterial Meningitis Infection Malpractice Lawyer – Delayed or Missed Diagnosis
A bacterial meningitis infection is a very deadly medical condition. Fortunately, it can be treated if diagnosed in a timely manner, with the patient typically making a full recovery.
Sometimes bacterial meningitis infections are not timely diagnosed or go undiagnosed due to the negligence and omissions of treating medical professionals.
When this happens, the patient and/or their family may be entitled to file a medical malpractice claim against the negligent providers. Pursing a medical malpractice claim is a factually and legally complex process, so a patient who has suffered a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a bacterial meningitis infection should consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney in Washington, D.C. to learn more about the claims process and his or her legal rights.
- 1 What Is Bacterial Meningitis?
- 2 What Happens If Bacterial Meningitis Is Not Diagnosed in Time?
- 3 What Happens If Bacterial Meningitis Is Not Treated?
- 4 What Evidence Needs to Be Provided in a Delayed or Missed Diagnosis Case to Prove Fault?
- 5 Can I File a Claim Directly Against the Doctor Who Missed My Meningitis Diagnosis?
- 6 Should I Talk to the Hospital Insurer During My Case?
What Is Bacterial Meningitis?
Bacterial meningitis is an infection and inflammation of the membranes or “meninges” that surround the brain and spinal cord. Although some cases of meningitis can be caused by viral or fungal infections, bacterial meningitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Unlike viral meningitis, bacterial meningitis is considered a life-threatening medical emergency that must be quickly treated with antibiotics and other care.
Bacterial meningitis can have a rapid onset of symptoms including:
- Fever and chills
- Excessive sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
Infants with bacterial meningitis can display symptoms including increased agitation, rapid breathing, unusual posture, and a bulge on the soft spot of their head.
Bacterial meningitis can be diagnosed with a clinical exam that usually involves a spinal tap or lumbar puncture to take a sample of spinal fluid for examination and a CT scan of the head and neck area. Fortunately, if diagnosed and treated quickly, bacterial meningitis can be fully resolved with a course of antibiotics.
What Happens If Bacterial Meningitis Is Not Diagnosed in Time?
Bacterial meningitis can lead to serious complications if not diagnosed in a timely manner. If bacterial meningitis is not promptly treated with antibiotics, a patient can develop serious and permanent complications such as:
- Permanent brain damage
- Hearing loss
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Learning and cognitive disabilities
If a bacterial meningitis infection is not diagnosed in a timely manner due to the errors or omissions of treating medical professionals, you may be entitled to bring a delayed diagnosis medical malpractice claim to seek compensation for damages from the medical complications that were caused by the delay in your diagnosis and treatment.
What Happens If Bacterial Meningitis Is Not Treated?
If left untreated for too long, bacterial meningitis can destroy vital brain and spinal cord tissue, leading to:
- Brain swelling
- Permanent disability
As with a delayed diagnosis, if a bacterial meningitis infection is not treated because medical professionals fail to diagnosis, you or your family may be entitled to file a misdiagnosis medical malpractice claim for compensation for your damages.
What Evidence Needs to Be Provided in a Delayed or Missed Diagnosis Case to Prove Fault?
In order to bring a delayed diagnosis/misdiagnosis medical malpractice claim, you will need to present medical evidence that proves each of the elements of a medical malpractice claim, which include:
- Duty – You must show that your medical provider owed you a duty of care. In the medical malpractice context, the applicable duty of care is usually defined as the acts or omissions that another reasonable medical provider of similar training and experience would have undertaken under similar circumstances in the same community.
- Breach – You must also show how your provider’s treatment fell below or breached the applicable standard of care.
- Causation – You must also show that your provider’s breach of his or her duty of care caused you to suffer injury and damages. If the harm you suffered would have happened to you regardless of your provider’s actions, or if there was another intervening, superseding cause of your harm, you may not be able to demonstrate causation.
- Damages – Finally, you must show that you have suffered some sort of damages that can be compensated with money; compensable damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Proving the elements of duty and breach usually requires presenting evidence in the form of the opinion of a medical expert qualified in the same or similar field of healthcare as the provider whom you are bringing your medical malpractice claim against. This expert will opine as to the applicable standard of care in your specific case and explain how your provider’s conduct failed to conform or fell below and therefore breached the standard of care.
A medical expert may also provide an opinion as to how your provider’s breach of the duty of care caused you to suffer harm and injury. The expert will typically rely on your medical records as the basis of his or her opinion on causation.
Finally, you will need evidence of the damages you have incurred. Economic damages like medical expenses or lost wages can usually be proven with bills or pay stubs. However, non-economic damages like pain and suffering or lost quality of life are usually proven by testimony from yourself and your family and friends regarding the affect your injuries have had on your life. Experts in field like mental health and economics may also offer testimony.
Can I File a Claim Directly Against the Doctor Who Missed My Meningitis Diagnosis?
If your doctor was responsible for missing a bacterial meningitis diagnosis that another reasonably competent physician likely would not have missed, you may be entitled to file a claim directly against your doctor.
Depending on your doctor’s employment relationship, you may also be entitled to file a claim against your physician’s medical practice, or against the hospital that employs him or her. However, many doctors who work in hospitals are not employed by the hospital.
Should I Talk to the Hospital Insurer During My Case?
If you’ve suffered a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a bacterial meningitis infection while under treatment at a hospital, you may be contacted by the hospital’s insurance company soon thereafter. It is vital that you decline to speak to the insurance company or an insurance adjuster until you have had an opportunity to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
The hospital’s insurer is looking out for the hospital’s interest and wants to limit the amount of compensation it may have to pay to you. Instead, let a knowledgeable, dedicated attorney communicate with the insurance company on your behalf so that your rights and interests are being looked after in all your interactions with the hospital’s insurer. An attorney can also aggressively negotiate with the insurance company for a full and fair settlement of your damages.
If you have suffered from a bacterial meningitis infection that was not timely diagnosed or was misdiagnosed by medical providers, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson MD, JD & Associates today to speak to a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney about your case and to learn more about your rights and options for seeking compensation and justice for yourself and your family.