Meningitis negligence claims news

 

Meningitis and its long-term effects

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious illness in which infection causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

If not treated immediately, meningitis can be deadly. Survivors can experience a number of long-term effects, including brain injury, hearing loss, vision loss and limb loss or amputation.

Our medical negligence lawyers have obtained compensation for adults and children who have suffered brain injury after meningitis and may be suffering from many of the following long-term, disabilities. 

What are the physical effects of brain injury caused by meningitis?

Physically, the individual may have impaired movement and coordination affecting their mobility, balance and independence. Long-term movement difficulties are more common with children. They may be linked to hearing loss.

Individuals may also experience seizures (also known as fits or convulsions) and suffer from epilepsy, which may need to be controlled by medication. Headaches and fatigue are also commonly experienced after meningitis.

How does meningitis cause limb loss or amputation?

Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. Septicaemia occurs when meningococcal bacteria enters the blood stream, causing damage to blood vessels and reducing the flow of oxygen to major organs, such as the heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. As the body prioritises sending blood to the vital organs, the blood supply to the peripheries – legs, arms, fingers and toes – is reduced. Without enough oxygenated blood, the hands and feet start to die and amputation may be needed.

Amputation can be devastating, affecting the amputee’s mobility, independence, ability to care for themselves or their children and their ability to work. Without proper support and prosthetic provision, amputees can become isolated and suffer from psychological symptoms, such as post- traumatic stress and depression.

If you have experienced limb loss following meningitis there are some great charities that we work with, such as PACE, which may be able to help you.

What are the subtle or invisible after-effects of meningitis?

In addition to the physical consequences of brain injury, meningitis survivors can also suffer from subtle or invisible after-effects which have a huge impact on their daily life but can be misunderstood by people around them as they are less obvious than a physical disability.

Meningitis charity, Meningitis Now’s helpful fact sheets set out the many ways in which brain injury from meningitis can cause difficulty with aspects of brain function that we take for granted, such as memory, perception and ‘executive skills’, such as organisation and understanding the consequences of our behaviour. Injury to the brain from meningitis can cause unpleasant changes in behaviour, such as:

  • withdrawal
  • being impulsive
  • aggression
  • lack of inhibition
  • loss of confidence
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • anxiety

Some people also experience problems with language following a brain injury.

How can meningitis cause hearing loss?

According to Meningitis Now, approximately 8% of survivors will experience some degree of permanent hearing loss. This is caused by damage to the hair cells of the cochlea or nerve fibres inside the ear. Cochlear damage is sometimes treated with cochlear implants but long-term hearing loss can still remain. The severity of hearing loss can fluctuate over time and needs long-term monitoring.

Meningitis treatment delay: How can Boyes Turner help obtain compensation?

Each meningitis survivor’s experience is unique, depending on the way in which their brain and body were affected by the disease. At Boyes Turner we can help those affected by negligently delayed treatment for meningitis get support that is personalised to meet their individual needs. We have helped clients obtain:

  • care
  • special educational support
  • prosthetics
  • assistive technology
  • specialist equipment
  • therapies
  • adapted vehicles
  • adapted accommodation
  • counselling
  • compensation for loss of earnings

Our brain injury and amputation specialists have successfully claimed millions of pounds in settlements for meningitis survivors. In cases where admissions of liability have been made, we secure interim payments to get rehabilitation underway, to ease financial hardship which arises from the individual’s loss of earnings, and to fund bespoke prosthetics, therapy, assistance with personal care, education, accessibility and adapted accommodation, often long before the claim is finally settled.

What our clients say:

“I’m back driving, which is fantastic. My car’s been adapted. I use my left foot to drive with, so the accelerator is now on the left side.”

Jan McFadden

“Now we’ve come to the end of this and I think, oh my God! I could have missed out on all this help.”

If you are caring for someone who has suffered amputation or brain injury from negligent medical care and would like to find out more about bringing a claim, contact us by email at mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Five child amputees who went on to become successful athletes

Losing a limb is a life changing occurrence. For many amputees, the ordinary activities of everyday life have to be re–thought and re–learned. Child amputees, in particular, require long term support to enable them to regain their confidence and mobility, and to adapt to life after amputation.

Artificial limbs or prosthetics can make a big difference. Finding the right prosthetic increases mobility and independence and, generally leads to a better quality of life. 

Appropriate prosthetic care can also help children get back to playing sports that they may have enjoyed before their amputation. Some go on to become athletes, inspiring others with similar injuries by the way they have overcome the limitations that are often associated with their disability. Here are five examples of child amputees who went on to accomplish remarkable things as athletes, with the help of prosthetics.

Jonnie Peacock

Jonnie Peacock is a 100 metre sprinter and won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. At the age of five, he contracted meningitis which attacked the tissues in his right leg and led to him being in an induced coma. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

He ran his first international race in May 2012 and set a new world record for an amputee in the 100 metres only a month later. He then competed in the Paralympics later that year and won gold, setting a new Paralympic record in the process. He then successfully defended his title in the 2016 Paralympics, winning gold again.

In this interview from 2016 he talks about some of the issues he has had with his prosthetic limb while training and how his prosthetist has made adjustments which have helped. This illustrates the importance of finding a prosthetist you trust and with whom you can communicate openly and honestly.

Richard Browne

One of Jonnie Peacock’s great rivals in the Paralympics is American sprinter, Richard Browne. Aged 16, a freak accident sent him through a plate glass window after slipping in the rain, which resulted in an arterial bleed. After 14 operations, his right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

In 2013, he broke Jonnie Peacock’s world record. He won gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 world championships and won silver at the 2012 Paralympics.

Aimee Mullins

Aimee Mullins is an American athlete, actress and model who was born with a medical condition that resulted in the amputation of both her lower legs when she was just a year old.

With the help of prosthetics, she did not allow her limb loss to stop her playing sports and competing against her able – bodied counterparts. After winning a scholarship to Georgetown University, she competed against able-bodied athletes in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division One track and field events, and is one of the first female amputees in history to compete in the NCAA. She was the first amputee in history (male or female) to compete in Division One NCAA track and field. She went on to compete in the 100 metre sprint and the long jump at the Paralympics in 1996. Since then, she has gone on to have successful careers in modelling and acting. She is currently in the new Netflix series, Stranger Things with Winona Ryder.

Jessica Long

Jessica Long is an American Paralympic swimmer. She was born in Siberia as Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova, before being adopted aged 13 months. Her lower legs were amputated as a result of fibular hemimelia when she was 18 months old. She was fitted with prosthetic limbs and soon began swimming in her grandparents’ pool.

She burst onto the international stage in 2004, winning three gold medals at the Paralympics in Athens. She was aged only 12 at the time. She now has 23 Paralympic medals and has held five world records.

Kelly Cartwright

Kelly Cartwright is an Australian athlete, competing in the 100 metres and long jump. When she was fifteen, she had a form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. Part of her right leg had to be amputated due to the cancer and she started using a prosthetic leg while in high school.

She competed at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics. In 2012, she won a gold medal in the long jump and a silver medal in the 100 metres. She also set a world record in the 100 metres while winning the world championships in 2011.

In 2009, she accomplished the remarkable feat of climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

It takes time and courage to come to terms with amputation. Childhood amputation, in particular, affects the whole family. For many, the emotional and physical healing process also requires professional help.

Where the amputation was caused by negligence or an accident that was someone else’s fault, our amputation experts are on hand to advise and may be able to secure financial compensation for prosthetics and other specialist equipment and vehicles and for necessary adaptations to the family home. In the absence of a claim or if you’re just looking for amputation-related information and friendly support, Limbcare are a great charity who can provide support and information needed to help amputees and their families. Many of their volunteers are amputees, so have gone through the journey themselves. 

If you or a family member has suffered an amputation after an accident we may be able to help. Get in touch with a member of our experienced personal injury claims team to discuss making a claim by emailing them at piclaims@boyesturner.com.

Brain Injury from Meningitis - sensory after effects

As Meningitis Now’s #MayMayhem dedicated fund raising month here at Boyes Turner comes to an end and we finish off the abundance of cakes and sweet treats on sale, and the sound of party poppers slowly fades from the kitchen, it’s worth mentioning that meningitis survivors often experience sensory impairments from the damage that has been done to their brain by this virulent disease.

What sensory damage could my child suffer after brain injury from meningitis?

Meningitis Now provides helpful information for parents about how meningitis-related brain injury might affect their child:

  • Hearing loss

The most common sensory after-effect of meningitis is loss of hearing caused by damage to the inner ear. In fact, 8% of all meningitis sufferers experience some permanent loss of hearing (sensori-neural hearing loss). Children should be offered a hearing test within four weeks of recovery from bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia as early management is essential to reduce the impact on the child’s language development.

Damage to the inner ear can also cause tinnitus and problems with balance and coordination. 10% of survivors of childhood meningitis will have ongoing difficulties with balance. Balance difficulties can occur even when the child’s hearing has not been affected. This might cause problems with delayed sitting or walking in early childhood, riding a bicycle, balancing in the dark or on uneven surfaces, or in situations such as running around a busy playground. The sufferer may have dizziness, unsteadiness or vertigo.

  • Visual problems

Following brain injury both vision and the ability to understand what is seen (visual perception) can be impaired. Visual fields (the extent of what is seen without moving the eyes or head), visual acuity (seeing at different distances) and visual perception can all be affected, as can the ability to track and  change focus, coordinate information from both eyes, or fix on a series of stationary objects quickly – an essential skill for reading. The child might experience double vision.

The child might not be aware of the extent of their visual problems or might try to ignore them, so it is important that parents report any concerns about their child’s vision following meningitis or brain injury to their doctor and ask for a specialist referral.

  • Taste, smell and touch

After damage to the brain, children may experience problems with taste and smell affecting their eating habits and exposing them to increased safety risks. They may lose the ability to identify objects by touch. Altered responses to temperature or pain exposes the child to additional risks of harm.

Where a client has sensory after-effects from meningitis-related brain injury caused by negligence, Boyes Turner’s brain injury and SEN specialists work with a range of experts, including audiologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists to assess the child’s disability, facilitate rehabilitation and ensure that the child receives proper treatment, support and compensation for their injury.

If you or someone you care for are disabled as a result of negligent medical treatment for meningitis please contact our specialist team by email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Julie Marsh, Believe & Achieve mentor for Meningitis Now

Julie Marsh, a senior associate - solicitor within Boyes Turner’s medical negligence team, is delighted to have been accepted to offer mentoring to young people through leading meningitis charity, Meningitis Now’s Believe & Achieve programme.  

What is the Believe and Achieve programme?

Believe and Achieve is a new venture which will enable the charity to offer personalised, age-specific and accessible support to 14 to 25-year-olds affected by meningitis. The programme is designed to be flexible so that the charity can respond to varying levels of need for support, depending on the young person’s individual experience following meningitis, their current difficulties, their strengths and their goals for what they want to develop or achieve.

Help and support is now on hand from free activities, events and workshops to support young meningitis survivors in their education, work and other areas of life. Believe & Achieve also offers signposting and referrals to other organisations, such as the National Citizenship Service, Young Carers and the Child Brain Injury Trust.

How can I get one to one help from Meningitis Now’s Believe & Achieve programme?

  • What is counselling and how can it help?

Meningitis Now can now offer counselling to help young meningitis survivors cope with their feelings and worries by talking through their experiences in private with a non-judgemental, professional, fully checked counsellor. Counselling can help the young person come to terms with what they have been through and help develop new ways to cope with situations. Believe & Achieve’s free 50 minute counselling sessions take place somewhere that’s local, friendly and private, once a week for about six weeks. Counsellors can be male or female, as preferred.

  • What is coaching and how can it help?

One to one coaching is available for those who want focussed help with a specific goal, such as getting a job or overcoming fears about public speaking in preparation for making a presentation at school. The fully trained coach can help with setting goals and planning how to achieve them, developing skills and improving performance and effectiveness. Where coaching is needed, Believe & Achieve offers coaching once a week for a six-week period, either face to face, by phone or by email.

  • What is mentoring and how can it help?

Through Believe & Achieve young people affected by meningitis can also benefit from six weeks of personal mentoring in three one-to-one sessions with a mentor. A mentor uses their own experience, wisdom and resources to support, advise and motivate others to succeed in achieving their own goals.

  • How do I get help if I think I have a claim?

At Boyes Turner our brain injury lawyers are skilled in securing compensation for clients who have been disabled or have suffered long-term injury as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment of meningitis.

Where liability is established, we secure interim payments to help provide care, therapies, special educational support, specialist equipment, such as prostheses and vehicles, and adapted accommodation. We recognise the importance of getting rehabilitation underway and restoring mobility and independence as soon as liability is admitted, so that our clients don’t have to put their lives on hold until the claim is finally settled.

Our solicitors understand the devastating impact of meningitis on the sufferer’s physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. We also understand that the suffering caused by this disease extends far beyond those whose circumstances give rise to a claim. We are delighted that Julie is able to offer young people affected by meningitis the benefit of her knowledge, experience and caring support, by providing mentoring through Meningitis Now’s Believe & Achieve programme.

If you or someone you care for are disabled as a result of negligent medical treatment for meningitis please contact our specialist team by email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Brain injury from meningitis - understanding its effects on speech, language and communication

#MayMayhem continues at Boyes Turner in aid of Meningitis Now’s fundraising campaign to help reduce the risk and alleviate the suffering caused by meningitis.

When meningitis strikes, its consequences can be deadly unless swift action is taken to admit the sufferer to hospital for urgent intravenous antibiotics. Meningitis and its associated condition of septicaemia can kill and cause permanent disability. Prompt treatment saves lives and reduces the risk of long-term damage, but survivors of serious infection from the illness may suffer continuing disability from the injury to their brain.  

How does brain injury from meningitis affect speech, language and communication?

Speech, language and communication problems are common after a brain injury and vary depending on the affected area and severity of the damage to the brain. The skills needed to speak, interpret and use language and understand the more subtle, social cues and conversational ‘rules’ relating to communication continue to develop as the child grows older. The full effects of an acquired brain injury (ABI) on the child’s speech, language and communication may, therefore, take time to become apparent.

Hidden difficulties

After ABI some children will retain the ability to speak at their pre-injury level, particularly if the brain is still able to control the muscles which physically control the formation of speech. Whilst their speech might appear normal, they may encounter a variety of hidden difficulties which hinder their ability to communicate. These problems can come from damage to areas of the brain which directly control understanding and use of speech and language but can also be affected by memory, attention and concentration deficits and fatigue which often follow ABI. Reading and writing can be affected by post ABI coordination and visual problems affecting the ability to hold or control a pen. The child may have no insight into their problems and feel frustrated and isolated as they struggle to communicate, to keep up at school and to interact with their friends.

Specific problems in speech, language and communication

Meningitis Now’s helpful factsheets explain some of the ways in which a child’s ability to communicate might be impaired by brain injury after meningitis.

Aphasia affects the production and understanding of speech, and the ability to read and write. Receptive aphasia is an impairment of the understanding of language. Expressive aphasia is an impairment of the use of language.

Children with receptive aphasia might demonstrate the following without realising what they are doing:

  • Being able to speak fluently but using words in the wrong order
  • Having varying levels of skill in different areas of language
  • Needing to use non-verbal skills to communicate, such as pictures or gestures
  • Using incorrect or made-up words, which makes their speech hard for others to understand
  • Struggling to recognise written letters or words or to understand simple sentences – affecting reading

Children with expressive aphasia might:

  • Have limited fluency of speech and vocabulary and speak in short, simple sentences
  • Be able to understand language but not be able to use it
  • Struggle to name people and objects and be unable to use cues to help
  • Struggle to write certain letters, or put letters in the wrong order in words

Dysarthria is where the physical ability to speak is impaired when the area of the brain which controls the muscles used for speech is damaged. Dysarthria can cause varying levels of impairment from slurring to complete loss of speech.

Dyspraxia is difficulty with planned and coordinated movements which might prevent the child from being able to say what they are thinking.  

More complex ‘executive function’ impairments can hinder problem solving or understanding the nuances of language (such as jokes). The child might need more time to process information, affecting their ability to learn and keep up at school.

Following ABI they might struggle with social interaction and friendships owing to difficulties understanding the unspoken ‘rules’ of social communication, such as taking turns to speak, using appropriate language and understanding body language or facial expressions.

At Boyes Turner we understand the importance of assessing and understanding the full extent of each individual client’s injuries and needs. Only by doing so can we ensure that their compensation meets their lifelong needs, whether for care, special educational support, assistive technology, therapies, adapted accommodation, specialist equipment or prostheses.

Where our clients have suffered an acquired brain injury following negligent delays in diagnosis and treatment of meningitis, other errors in medical care or as a result of an accident caused by another’s fault, Boyes Turner’s brain injury lawyers work with experts in a range of disciplines, including speech and language therapy, assistive technology, educational psychology, neuropsychology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to understand and assess the value of the claim. Where liability is established, or the Rehabilitation Code can be invoked depending on the cause of the injury, we obtain interim payments to provide early rehabilitation and meet the family’s immediate needs without having to wait for final settlement of the claim.

If you are caring for someone who has suffered a brain injury then please contact our specialist solicitors by email mednegcaims@boyesturner.com

Meningitis and brain injury - what can you expect?

Boyes Turner are supporting Meningitis Now’s #MayMayhem campaign in which the focus is on putting the fun into workplace fundraising to support the charity’s important work. 

Message behind the #maymayhem

Meanwhile, the message behind the mayhem is that meningitis kills. It also maims, leaving its survivors permanently disabled by limb loss and damage to the brain.

Whilst many of the physical effects of an acquired brain injury give rise to obvious disability, other consequences of the damage to the child’s developing brain can be more subtle, appearing and changing over time, making them harder to understand.

Emotional and behavioural after-effects of brain injury are often misinterpreted, particularly in a growing child or teenager. It is important for the child’s parents, wider family and school to recognise that the child may not be able to control or understand their own emotions and challenging behaviour, and to seek appropriate specialist help to support the child.

What emotional and behavioural changes can I expect following my child’s meningitis brain injury?

Meningitis Now lists some of the common difficulties that children may experience after a brain injury:

  • Tiredness leads to frustration and irritability when the child finds it difficult to return quickly to former activities or struggles to cope at school.
  • Mood swings, such as crying or laughing more quickly, temper tantrums, bedwetting and nightmares are common in the recovery period. Tiredness only makes them worse.
  • Anxiety, depression and loss of confidence come from realising that the illness has changed their life, worry about becoming ill again and coping with the long-term effects of their injury.
  • Apathy, lethargy, despondency and poor motivation can be misinterpreted as laziness, whereas they can arise from damage to the areas of the brain which affect arousal and initiation of activity. Without support, the child can slip beneath the radar at school, thereby failing to achieve their potential, and may become socially isolated.
  • Anger and aggression come from impairment of the brain’s ability to control behaviour and from frustration or struggling to cope emotionally with their injury.
  • Obsessive behaviour and lack of flexibility impede a child’s ability to adapt to different situations, including socially.
  • Disinhibition and sexually inappropriate behaviour in which the older child has no insight into the consequences of their behaviour. This exposes them to added risk of harm, causing friction with parents and teachers, and isolates them from friends who find them embarrassing.

These behaviours can arise from neurological damage to the brain impeding the child’s ability to regulate their own behaviour but also from the child’s psychological reaction to their illness and its impact on their life, their former activities, friendships and independence. Cognitive impairment makes it difficult for the child to communicate their frustration and everything is made worse by fatigue, anxiety and confusion. The child’s pre-injury personality and the dynamics and stresses within the family will also affect the child’s behaviour. Medication, such as anti-convulsants, also affect the child’s tiredness, behaviour and learning capability.

At Boyes Turner we understand that following meningitis or a brain injury the damage may go far beyond the physical. We work with educational, clinical and neuropsychologists, and child psychiatrists to assess the full effect of the injury and to secure the funding necessary to provide rehabilitation, therapy and ongoing support.

Our clinical negligence lawyers also work closely with our Special Educational Needs team to ensure that the child receives appropriate SEN assistance, whether that is in a mainstream or specialist school. By ensuring that we fully understand the child’s needs we are able to secure for them higher levels of compensation.

If you are caring for a child who has suffered a brain injury as a result of negligent medical care please contact by email on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

#MayMayhem 2018 - Support Meningitis Now this May

Here at Boyes Turner, #MayMayhem is underway as our brain injury lawyers ‘unleash the mayhem’ in support of leading meningitis charity, Meningitis Now.

Whilst our office antics will raise a smile, along with funds for Meningitis Now’s valuable work in the prevention and alleviation of suffering from meningitis, we’re deadly serious about this devastating disease.

What damage can meningitis cause?

Meningitis can kill within hours. Its survivors can be left with severe disability, including amputation and the serious after-effects of acquired brain injury. These will vary depending on which area of the brain has been affected by the disease.

Where incorrectly treated or late diagnosed meningitis has led to permanent brain damage in a child, it is important that the nature of the injury and the full extent of its impact is understood to ensure that the child is properly compensated for the lifelong pain, suffering and financial loss that they will incur. Different types of injury give rise to different problems in different areas of a child’s life, so we work hard to ensure that the child’s needs, now and continuing into adulthood, are properly assessed and recovered as part of their claim.

What physical symptoms can I expect my child to suffer after an acquired brain injury from meningitis?

Meningitis Now’s fact sheet on the physical effects of acquired brain injury refers to some of the physical problems faced by children after brain injury from meningitis:

  • Impaired movement and coordination

    Where meningitis injures the child’s brain in the neonatal period around or shortly after the time of birth, this can lead to cerebral palsy.

    Brain injury at any age can cause difficulty with movement and coordination, affecting posture, control over gross motor skills such as walking and running, or fine motor skills such as writing or manipulating objects with the hands.

    Muscle tone might be too tight or too loose, affecting the ability to hold the body in certain positions or sit upright, and can cause dizziness, problems with balance and coordinated movements.
  • Seizures (fits) and epilepsy

    Seizures are both a sign of meningitis and an after effect of brain injury.
  • Headaches and fatigue

    Headaches and extreme tiredness are common effects of acquired brain injury, but can also be caused by anti-epileptic medication. They can also affect the child’s behaviour and ability to function at home and at school.
  • Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus is a build-up of cerebro-spinal fluid on the brain when the normal flow of fluid around the brain and spinal cord is restricted. The additional pressure on the brain is sometimes alleviated by  surgical insertion of a shunt to help the fluid drain into another part of the body, such as the abdomen.
  • Incontinence

    Impaired control of bowel and bladder function can follow severe brain injury.

The physical disability arising from a brain injury affects every aspect of the life of the sufferer who may need lifelong assistance with mobility and independence, personal care, education, accessibility and adapted accommodation and will suffer financial losses from their inability (or reduced ability) to work.

Boyes Turner’s specialist brain injury solicitors work with experts in a wide range of disciplines including neurology and paediatrics, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, disabled housing and nursing care to assess our clients’ needs. Our expertise enables us to recover top level damages awards to meet their lifelong needs for therapies, equipment, accommodation, education and care.

If you are caring for a child with serious disability arising from negligent medical care of meningitis please contact us by email at mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Meningitis in babies - new warnings from latest research

A new research study into the characteristics of bacterial meningitis in babies below the age of three months has identified potentially dangerous flaws in the way meningitis is currently diagnosed.  

The Meningitis Research Foundation, which funded the St George’s Hospital research team study, Clinical Characteristics and Risk Factors for Poor Outcome in Infants Less Than 90 Days of Age with Bacterial Meningitis in the United Kingdom and Ireland, has warned that doctors relying on the classic sign of fever to trigger further medical investigation may be missing the opportunity to diagnose meningitis in this exceptionally high risk age group.

Whilst babies under the age of three months are 70 times more likely to contract bacterial meningitis than adults, the study found that only 54% of the 263 meningitis babies studied were reported to have a temperature above 38°C. Fever was more commonly reported in older babies, whereas, in the  younger age group, the common but less specific symptoms, such as poor feeding, lethargy and irritability could more commonly be mistaken for mild illness.

Fever is not the only sign of meningitis but is regarded as a key feature. The NICE Guideline: Meningitis (bacterial) and meningococcal septicaemia in under 16s: recognition, diagnosis and management (at paragraph 1.1.1) warns that fever is ‘not always present, particularly in neonates’. Newborn babies (also known as neonates) are the highest risk age group for meningitis.

The study found that other specific features of meningitis, such as bulging fontanelle (the area on top of the head where the baby’s skull bones have not yet fused), seizures, coma and neck stiffness were far less common in infants under three months. Seizures were reported in 28%, bulging fontanelle in 22%, coma in 6%, and neck stiffness in only 3%.

The incidence of bacterial meningitis in babies hasn’t changed since the 1980s. Early diagnosis and rapid treatment remain the key to avoiding the devastating consequences of this deadly disease.

Fever can no longer be relied upon as a reliable main symptom of meningitis in babies under three months old. To assist in recognition and diagnosis, The Meningitis Research Foundation have now updated their symptoms information for parents. The charity has also created a teaching package for clinicians, reflecting the findings of the recent research.

As specialists in clinical negligence claims of the utmost severity, Boyes Turner’s meningitis experts have acted for many children and adults who have suffered permanent brain damage, severe disability and amputation arising from delayed diagnosis and treatment of meningitis.

We support the efforts of charities such as the Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now and the breakthroughs in awareness and positive change that arise from studies such as this. We now look forward to seeing this awareness reflected in changes to guidelines and clinical practice in the hope that fewer lives will be affected by this devastating disease.

If you are caring for a child with serious disability arising from negligent medical care of meningitis please contact us on 0118 952 7201 or email us on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

 

Meningitis B Teen Trial - Join the TEAM!

The NHS is inviting 16-18 year olds to join the TEAM (Teenagers Against Meningitis) by volunteering to take part in an important research study which could help reduce the risk of meningitis, not just to teenagers, but to the entire community.

The MenB vaccine

The study is being carried out by researchers from the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It also has the support of leading meningitis charity, Meningitis Now.

24,000 teenagers, aged 16-18, will be recruited from 14 towns across the UK. 16,000 of them will be given two doses of the MenB vaccine, which is licensed but currently not routinely available to this age group. The remaining 8,000 teen participants will act as the control group – the non-vaccinated proportion of the study population against which the results relating to the vaccinated group will be compared. The control group participants won’t miss out, however, as they will receive the vaccination at the conclusion of the study. In this way, all 24,000 participants will gain the benefit of the additional protection from meningitis that the MenB vaccine provides.

Immunising teenagers

The aim of the study is to test whether immunising teenagers, the most prevalent carriers of meningococcal bacteria, could reduce the risk of meningitis across the entire population.

According to Meningitis Now, over the last ten years there have been between 700 and 1300 reported cases of meningococcal disease in the UK each year, the majority of which were caused by meningitis group B. 10% of the population carry meningococcal bacteria in their throats but the incidence in teenagers is much higher than in the general population with one in four teens carrying the bacteria.

The presence of meningococcal bacteria in the throat usually occurs without ill effects but can become extremely dangerous, leading to septicaemia and meningitis, when the body’s immune system is overwhelmed and the bacteria break through, infecting the bloodstream and the meninges (protective layers) of the brain.  

The meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by sneezing, coughing and kissing. Teenagers, especially students living away from home for the first time in close quarters with others, are particularly vulnerable to contracting the disease and passing on the bacteria to others. Therefore, by targeting teenagers, the research group hopes to find out whether by immunising this key sector of the population against meningitis B they can reduce the risk of meningitis to the entire community.

Meningitis injuries

Meningitis and septicaemia are devastating diseases which can lead to brain injury, limb loss, severe disability and death. If meningitis is suspected, immediate admission to hospital and urgent administration of intravenous antibiotics are essential to prevent or limit the extent of the injury.

At Boyes Turner our meningitis specialists regularly secure compensation for clients who have suffered severe, disabling injury as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment of meningitis. We await the outcome of the TEAM study with interest in the hope that extending the availability of the MenB vaccine to teenagers will help bring an end to the suffering caused by this devastating disease. 

If you or someone you know has had a delay in treatment of meningitis leading to a serious injury please contact us to see if we can assist you in pursuing a claim and exploring your rehabilitation options.

Brighter Future Partner - a year on

Boyes Turner has been proud to support Meningitis Now as a Brighter Future Partner over the last 12 months. The charity is dedicated to fighting meningitis in the UK, supporting the families of those affected and funding vital research into this disease.

Over the past year we have enjoyed finding different ways to raise money to support Meningitis Now’s work, whilst raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.

Our first event, in September last year, was the Toddle Waddle  – a sponsored walk for toddlers in Forbury Gardens in Reading.  It was a great success and raised over £700 for the charity and a reminder that these very young members of society are most at risk from the infection. It was great to see so many taking part.

As Christmas approached, the Boyes Turner medical negligence team ran two Christmas wreath making evenings. After the first evening sold out, a second was added and everybody enjoyed making  traditional festive decorations. It was great to see everyone leave with something hand-made that (hopefully) would last the entire festive season.

Then in February of this year, we continued the craft theme, with a ‘Made with Love’ fundraising event for Valentines Day, at which people could make their own Valentines Day card, create Valentine bunting and decorate their own “love mugs”, amongst other crafts.

May Mayhem provided a week of events which included a mobile ice cream trolley touring the office for our staff, a party in the park sports event, a picture quiz and a raffle.  The most sought after prize was the chocolate bouquet!

Solicitor Julie Marsh said:

“We’ve had a fantastic year supporting Meningitis Now. We would like to thank the team of organisers and everybody who has taken part in the fundraising events.”

We appreciate the life changing impact of meningitis has on individuals and their families. Those who survive the condition may experience long term physical effects of sepsis including brain injury and amputation. If you are concerned about the medical care you or a family member has received and would like medical negligence advice please contact our team on 0800 029 4803 or email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

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