Encephalitis and brain injury claims

  • Encephalitis can have devastating long-term consequences for patients and their families.
  • Early recognition and prompt treatment is the key to a more successful outcome avoiding serious brain injury.
  • Our experienced clinical negligence team includes lawyers dual-qualified as doctors and nurses who have a real in-depth knowledge and understanding of the difficulties relating to encephalitis clinical negligence claims and are specialists in this area.
  • Wherever possible, our experienced clinical negligence solicitors will obtain interim payments of compensation at the earliest stages to assist with obtaining the tailored professional input required for your needs and rehabilitation.

What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is a rare, but serious, condition which causes the brain to become inflamed either through infection or though the body’s own immune system attacking the brain. It requires urgent medical treatment in hospital and can be life threatening for individuals of all ages, but the earlier treatment is started, the more successful the outcome is likely to be.

There are two main types: infectious encephalitis of which viruses are the most common cause, with herpes simplex encephalitis the most frequently identified, and autoimmune encephalitis in which the body’s own immune system attacks the brain. The majority of autoimmune types are associated with the finding of specific antibodies in the blood. It is generally unknown what causes these antibodies to be produced.

Common errors in clinical negligence claims include a failure to recognise the symptoms and to undertake appropriate investigations leading to a failure to start appropriate treatment in a timely manner and failure to provide the correct and effective dosage of treatment is also a common error.

Our clinical negligence solicitors understand bringing a claim when you are coping with the effects of encephalitis is daunting but we will be there to guide and support you every step of the way. If you have concerns about your own treatment or that of a loved one, please do call us for a free, no obligation discussion so we may advise you on whether you have a potential clinical negligence claim.

How do encephalitis related claims arise?

The NHS provides an outstanding service for the most part but sadly mistakes do sometimes happen. Encephalitis is not easy to diagnose and negligence may arise where there is a failure to recognise the symptoms leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment; a failure to undertake appropriate investigations or a failure to provide effective treatment.

In cases where the care is shown to be unacceptable and has led to a worse outcome than would otherwise have been the case, you will generally be entitled to compensation.

Encephalitis cases are complex and you will need the support of clinical negligence solicitors with specialist expertise in this area to achieve the best outcome.

How Moore Barlow can help

At Moore Barlow, our experienced clinical negligence solicitors have specialist knowledge and understanding of the difficulties relating to encephalitis cases and are specialists in this area. We have an excellent track record for succeeding in these cases and are regarded as leaders in the field.

We understand the worries people have of bringing a claim whilst dealing with the challenges and difficulties of this condition, but we will work with you to guide and support you through every stage of the process.

So, if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with encephalitis and have concerns about the medical care received, do contact us and we will be happy to discuss this with you at a time to suit you and can advise you of your options.

Our solicitors work across our offices in London, Guildford, Richmond, Southampton, Woking and Lymington and we deal with clients throughout the country and will visit you at your home, in hospital or rehabilitation unit.

If you think you may have a compensation claim, contact us today.

Infectious encephalitis will commonly start with flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and headache followed a few days later by further symptoms including:

  • Confusion and/or drowsiness and possible loss of consciousness.
  • Aversion to bright lights
  • Changes in personality or behaviour
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Weakness or loss of ability to control movement
  • Seizures

Autoimmune encephalitis has a longer onset, in some cases months or even years and the symptoms will vary depending on the type of causal antibody but will likely include any of the following:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Altered personality or behaviour
  • Hallucinations
  • Movement disorders / loss of balance and falls
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Memory loss
  • Speech disturbance
  • Respiratory problems

Encephalitis needs to be treated in hospital as a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is the key to a more successful outcome and treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the encephalitis.

The symptoms and history at presentation should provide some indication of the specific condition but medical tests and scans will be required to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment may include the following and should not be delayed while waiting for investigations:

  • Antiviral medication, such as Acyclovir for herpes simplex encephalitis specifically
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infection
  • Immunomodulatory medications – to help control the immune system. These may include steroids, immunoglobulins, plasma exchange and immune-suppressive drugs
  • Medication to control seizures
  • Support may also be required with breathing in some cases

Encephalitis affects people differently and the help and support required will also differ between individuals.

Recovery is a long process, some people will recover to be able to work and live independently, others will be left with significant problems requiring long term care and support with everyday living. Some of the more common long-term effects may include:

  • Memory loss, particularly short -term memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Personality or behavioural changes
  • Difficulties with attention and concentration, planning and problem solving
  • Fatigue

Rehabilitation with tailored input from a range of professionals will be required to assist with the aim of achieving greater independence and to provide emotional support and coping strategies for those affected by encephalitis and also their families.

It is vital in every case to maximise your recovery through active rehabilitation. Wherever possible, we will obtain interim payments of compensation at the earliest stages to assist with obtaining the tailored professional input required for your needs relating to:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Re-education/Training
  • Housing
  • Aids and equipment
  • Care support
  • Therapeutic services
  • Transport
  • Case Management

We can advise you on your benefit rights and also advise you on dealing with debts which might arise due to being off work.

We have a specialist Community Care team who can provide advice and support in relation to your ongoing entitlement to health and social care provision and support at home or in the community.

In addition, we have a specialist Court of Protection team who can advise you on all aspects of decision making for others where an injury has left an individual unable to make decisions for themselves.

For further information about encephalitis and clinical negligence claims, please read our in-depth blog, where you can also download an informative fact sheet.

However you or a loved one are affected, the Encephalitis Society, can provide further information and support for people living with encephalitis.