Failure to Diagnose Baby’s Meningitis

Oregon birth injury lawyer for HIE

Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers Explain a Failure to Diagnose Baby’s Meningitis

Meningitis is a serious, but usually treatable infection that children and adults are vulnerable to. When a child contracts meningitis, it can be even more serious than an adult’s case. Children can contract meningitis due to the negligence of hospital staff (i.e. doctors, nurses, etc.). If meningitis is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, this can cause severe, irreversible brain damage, or even wrongful death. The failure to diagnose baby’s meningitis can be catastrophic. Our Oregon lawyers understand just how serious meningitis can be if a physician fails to diagnose and treat a child’s meningitis in a timely manner. This is why if your child experienced a delay in diagnosis of meningitis or a meningitis diagnosis was entirely missed, you should call our Oregon lawyers who can review your case for FREE to determine if medical malpractice played a part in your child’s meningitis. 

Meningitis in a child, especially a newborn baby or also known as a neonate, is a very serious and catastrophic diagnosis.  Luckily, in most instances it can be aggressively treated and cause no harm to a baby other than momentary fevers.  But if meningitis is not detected early and it is not quickly treated it can result in catastrophic personal injuries including brain damage, spinal cord injuries, language and cognitive function disability, eyesight damage, hearing damage, and many other types of injuries—including wrongful death.  The failure to diagnose baby’s meningitis can be devastating.

What Causes Meningitis in Children?

Most often, meningitis is caused by an infection which as a result causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. There are two common types of organisms that can cause meningitis. These include:

Bacteria – Many types of bacteria can cause meningitis. Group b streptococcus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), listeria monocytogenes and haemophilus influenza are a few examples of types of bacteria that commonly cause meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be very serious and can cause brain damage or death if not treated immediately. Infants and small children are at even higher risk of contracting meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is most common in people under the age of 20. 

Viruses – Herpes virus, measles, mumps, enteroviruses and coxsackieviruses are a few examples of viruses that can cause viral meningitis. Children and people with weakened immune systems are most are risk for viral meningitis. Most cases of viral meningitis occur in children under the age of five. 

Symptoms of Meningitis

Meningitis symptoms in toddlers and older children typically include:

  • Severe headache
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Skin rash
  • Lack of appetite or thirst

Symptoms of meningitis in newborns typically include:

  • High fever
  • Excessive crying
  • Inability to console
  • Sluggish
  • Poor oral intake
  • Vomiting
  • Extended or distended belly
  • Failure to wake to eat
  • Stiffness in the neck and body
  • A bulge on the babies soft spot (fontanel)

Complications of Meningitis Due to Medical Malpractice

  • Brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory impairment 
  • Shock
  • Death

How is Meningitis Diagnosed?

  • Spinal tap
  • Physical assessment
  • Imaging (i.e. MRI or CT scan) to detect if there is swelling or inflammation in the brain
  • Blood cultures to see if a particular organism is growing that is making the child ill such as a CBC blood test

How is Meningitis Treated?

Bacterial meningitis is usually treated with antibiotic therapy and in some instances, corticosteroids. The antibiotics used depends on the type of bacteria present that is causing the infection. For viral meningitis, unfortunately antibiotics cannot cure the illness. Treatment for viral meningitis includes bed rest, over the counter pain medications and fluid support. At times, corticosteroids are prescribed as well as anticonvulsants if the child is as risk for further inflammation of the brain and seizures. 

Proving a Delay in Treating Meningitis

Proving a failure to diagnose baby’s meningitis can be a difficult type of case.  First, a victim and his or her family will need to establish that there were conditions or symptoms that an experienced healthcare provider should have detected.  Some of the most basic signs would be a fever above 100.4 in a baby which should trigger immediate intervention and testing.  

Second, the family will need to establish that the healthcare providers failed to detect those symptoms and that failure could have prevented the injuries that were caused to the baby—or at least the damages could have been minimized.  It is the difference between the injuries and effects of the infection that would have been felt already by virtue of having the infection, minus the effects of what actually happened due to the medical malpractice which caused worst symptoms and damages.  This added damages due to the medical malpractice is what a victim could recover.

Third and finally, the damages need to be assessed and explained by an expert.  The damages need to be shown to have been caused by the misdiagnosis.  The difficulty with a baby is establishing how the damages will impact the baby on a daily basis for the rest of his or her life.

Could a Failure to Diagnose Baby’s Meningitis be Oregon Medical Malpractice?

As you can see, meningitis is an incredibly serious illness that needs prompt diagnosis and treatment. If a provider misdiagnosis an infant or child with something else (i.e. typical viral infection, ear infection, etc.), this can be a matter of life and death. This is because a delay in diagnosis means a delay in treatment which gives the infection time to worsen and cause permanent brain damage, or even death. 

Additionally, if a provider dismisses a parent’s concerns and tells them the illness “will pass” and there is no need for evaluation, this allows the infection to fester and worsen. By the time the infant or child has declined enough for the physician to take the child’s illness seriously, it may be too late. 

Further, failure to perform necessary testing can lead to a failure to diagnose meningitis. A spinal tap and CBC (complete blood count) should be performed in an infant or child who is suspected to have meningitis. This allows identification of infection and type of infection present. There are certain classic signs of meningitis (stiff neck, high fever, severe headache, light sensitivity) that any trained medical professional should notice and identify as meningitis possibly being the cause. Failure to act of these signs is complete negligence. 

How Can Our Oregon Failure to Diagnose Meningitis Lawyers Help You?

Our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers understand just how serious failure to diagnose meningitis can be. Many cases of meningitis that are missed are due to medical malpractice. Failure to diagnose meningitis can result in wrongful death, something that should never happen.  If there was a delay in your child’s meningitis diagnosis or the diagnosis was missed entirely, you and your child may be eligible for compensation. Compensation for this type of medical malpractice claim can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages (of parent)
  • Lost future wages (parent and child)
  • Long term care 
  • Therapy coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy
  • Rehabilitation coverage
  • Coverage for assistive devices (i.e. wheelchair, walker, cane, crutches, etc.)
  • Educational assistance if the child will need special education services

These are just a few of the many possible reasons for compensation for an individual affected by a delay or failure to diagnose meningitis case. 

Misdiagnosed or Delays in Diagnosing Meningitis is Serious—Call our Law Firm Now

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

– or fill out the form below –

Recent Posts

Call Now Button