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Written on 21st September 2017

With meningitis affecting the lives of a million people worldwide, there has never been a more urgent need to raise awareness of the risks associated with this disabling and life threatening condition. Awareness of the condition is a key step towards reducing its impact.

The difficulty lies in the speed with which the condition takes hold, progressing from symptoms which might ordinarily be associated with a cold or flu to a disabling and life-threatening condition within a matter of hours. In its early stages, when antibiotic treatment is most effective, without the necessary awareness and proper diagnostic tests the symptoms can be deceptive. Any delay in starting treatment gives an already fast-acting disease greater opportunity to take hold. Its impact can be devastating.

Boyes Turner’s experienced medical negligence solicitors have acted for many clients who have been severely disabled as a result of negligent delays in medical treatment of meningitis by their GP or hospital staff.

In a recent case, we secured judgment for a baby boy whose signs of meningitis – including a persistent high temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and a rash – were missed by hospital staff leading to a delay in his antibiotic treatment. He now suffers from hearing loss, learning difficulties and problems with language and communication as a result of the delay in treating his meningitis.

In another recent case we acted for a young girl whose signs of group B streptococcal meningitis –  including a persistent high temperature which didn’t respond to paracetamol and refusal to feed – were misinterpreted by hospital doctors when she was a baby. The delay in antibiotic treatment led to permanent damage to her brain. She now suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Know the risks

Meningitis can affect anyone at any time but certain people are at greater risk:

  • Babies and toddlers under the age of 5 have the highest risk of meningitis because their immune systems are not yet sufficiently developed to protect them against the disease
  • Teenagers and students are also at higher risk. They are particularly vulnerable when going off to university where they are in close contact with people from different backgrounds, living away from home and looking after themselves for the first time. Without their parents’ supervision, they may confuse meningitis symptoms with flu, hangover or tiredness
  • Adults over 55 or those with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk

Know the symptoms and ensure that your loved ones do too

  • Have a look at our recent infographic outlining the symptoms – available on our website here.

If you suspect that you or a member of your family have the symptoms of meningitis, don’t delay. Seek urgent medical help. It’s time to act!