What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an irritation or infection of the meninges, which is the covering of the brain and spinal cord. The infection can be caused by either bacteria or a virus and occurs in children more frequently than in adults. The damage from bacterial meningitis can range from very minimal, to deficits such as deafness or mental impairment, to death. Usually persons with viral meningitis have a complete recovery.

How does meningitis occur?

Both bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis can be passed from person to person. In bacterial meningitis, the bacteria can spread directly from localized areas of infection, such as a nearby sinus infection, or the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream from an infection in another part of the body. Viral meningitis can be caused by a direct viral infection to the brain or from the spread of the virus from another infection such as mumps or the flu.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Children with meningitis often have sudden symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Children may also have nausea, vomiting, and/or a worse headache when in a lighted area. They may become confused, difficult to awaken, listless, and/or lethargic. Meningitis can resemble a bad case of the flu.

 How can there be medical malpractice related to a meningitis victim?

When medical malpractice occurs related to meningitis victims it usually relates to the failure of the healthcare provider to make a timely diagnosis of this disease and/or the failure to timely and properly treat this condition. More specifically, some of the issues to examine are whether there was a:

  • Failure to perform an adequate history and physical examination of the patient.
  • Failure to consider and appreciate the patient’s risk factors for meningitis.
  • Failure to appreciate and recognize signs and symptoms of meningitis.
  • Failure to obtain and properly interpret a lumbar puncture.
  • Failure to timely institute admission to the hospital, and provide appropriate IV antibiotic treatment and other supportive care.


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