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Bacterial Meningitis Misdiagnosis: What It Means for Patients

By: Anapol Weiss

Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency that requires timely diagnosis and proper medical treatment to prevent death or permanent injury.

Diagnosing bacterial meningitis often involves testing the blood and cerebrospinal fluid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Imaging tests such as a CT-scan may help diagnose the disease by showing inflammation in the head, and an x-ray of the chest or sinuses may indicate the presence of an infection.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated effectively with antibiotics, but the CDC urges that treatment must be started as soon as possible. Appropriate antibiotic treatment of the most common types of bacterial meningitis should reduce the risk of meningitis-related death to below 15 percent – although the risk to young infants and the elderly remains higher.

Unfortunately, bacterial meningitis is sometimes mistaken by health care professionals as a less serious condition such as influenza or another viral illness. Failure to promptly diagnose and treat bacterial meningitis can result in complications including:

  • Brain damage
  • Death
  • Hydrocephalus, the accumulation of fluid on the brain
  • Partial or total hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Subdural effusion, the buildup of fluid between the skull and brain

Medical misdiagnosis cases involving bacterial meningitis are highly complex in nature and require the skill and knowledge of an experienced medical malpractice legal team. If a delay in meningitis diagnosis led to a loved one’s injuries, we can help. Contact our firm for assistance.