A new report from Meningitis Research Foundation suggests more lives could be saved if health professionals gave clear consistent advice about recognising meningitis and sepsis to parents.
The report indicates that a staggering 49% of children with the most common form of bacterial meningitis are sent home after their first medical assessment, whilst 30% of young babies with bacterial meningitis receive inappropriate early treatment that delays parents seeking further medical advice.
Meningitis infections can progress rapidly with life threatening consequences, but early symptoms of meningitis are non-specific and can be difficult to distinguish from other conditions, particularly in infants and young children.
As clinical negligence lawyers we often see cases where early symptoms are misinterpreted with catastrophic effects: sometimes signs are negligently overlooked whilst in other cases an alternative diagnosis may be reasonable at the time. It is therefore essential that doctors give proper advice on symptoms and red flags or warning signs to watch out for so that parents are not falsely reassured. This safety-netting advice can help parents to trust their instincts and return for further advice before it is too late.
Freeths Oxford Clinical Negligence team are proud to be partners of Meningitis Research Foundation and to join Parents, such as Mrs Walkden from the north-west of England whose daughter’s meningitis was mistaken for an ear infection, in backing campaign to ensure that parents receive the necessary advice about potential meningitis and sepsis symptoms.
Mrs Walkden said: "We felt reassured when the hospital told us it was an ear infection... We were not told to look out for anything else.”
To check the warning signs for meningitis use the MRF symptom checker here: https://www.meningitis.org/meningitis/check-symptom
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have suffered as a result of a delay or inappropriate treatment of meningitis or sepsis then please contact one of our experienced solicitors for advice:
Catherine Bell, Senior Associate on 01865 781140 or Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Lowe, Partner on 0186 578 1019 or email@example.com
Guidance issued by the NHS advisory body the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) states the NHS should provide parents with "safety netting" advice if they bring in children with symptoms that could be a sign of meningitis and sepsis. The conditions can be difficult to spot at first because the symptoms, including a high temperature and vomiting, are similar to those of many less serious ailments. But a report published by the Meningitis Research Foundation has suggested this safety netting does not always happen.