Meningitis clinical negligence claims

  • A delay in diagnosing meningitis can result in a lost window of opportunity to effectively treat it.
  • We have considerable experience in investigating and successfully pursuing claims where there has been a delay in diagnosis.

Meningitis is a very serious infectious disease which can lead to brain damage and lifelong disability if it is not quickly diagnosed.

The infection that causes meningitis can be viral or bacterial. The more common cause is viral. Viral meningitis is usually caused by enteroviruses, the virus that is responsible for sore throats, colds and flu-like illnesses. Children and people with weakened immune systems, are most likely to be affected.

Bacterial meningitis occurs when bacteria travels to the brain and spine through the bloodstream, and tends to be more severe than viral meningitis. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are often mistaken for other common illnesses such as cold or flu, meaning an accurate diagnosis, and therefore treatment, is required at the earliest possible stage.

For further information, read our guide on What is Meningitis?

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial meningitis. It is vital that antibiotics are given in the early stages of the disease in order to reduce the risk of damage to the brain. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat viral meningitis as they will have no effect on the virus itself, and other therapeutic interventions are required.

If treatment is not given promptly, meningitis can be fatal, for individuals of all ages.

Meningitis compensation claims usually focus on a delayed diagnosis which results in the inability to treat it effectively.

Clinicians often fail to take the investigative steps required to rule out meningitis; for example, a GP may fail to refer a child to hospital for review and, instead, adopt a wait and see approach. A hospital doctor may fail to carry out essential blood tests, a lumbar puncture or chest x-ray if they do not consider meningitis as a possible diagnosis.

We have considerable experience in investigating and successfully pursuing claims where there has been a delay diagnosing meningitis.

A delayed diagnosis of meningitis may result in devastating brain injury. Those affected will require considerable support throughout their life. The cost of private 24 hour care, for example, can be hugely expensive so it is crucial that needs are fully met. Compensation claims are specifically aimed at funding these needs.

We recognise the very real difficulties that exist in providing care. Not least difficulties accessing ongoing medical treatment, care and support, therapy and equipment (and in the case of children, education). In cases where liability is resolved, we will always seek interim payments at an early stage to ensure access to such treatment, support and assistance. Our community care team are also here to advise and provide assistance in securing all requisite NHS and Local Authority care and support during the continuance of your claim.

We are also able to offer our clients in an appropriate case a specialist ‘immediate needs assessment’ service.

A successful compensation claim will ensure that you have the care and support you need for life and will frequently include financial provision to cover the cost not only of care but also essential therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy. It can also often help with requirements for assistive technology and equipment, aids and equipment, transport needs and even appropriate accommodation (along with specialist education in the case of a minor).

If you believe that you or someone you know has suffered as a result of clinical negligence please contact Anne Cassidy.

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

Case studies


View our ‘Meningitis’ factsheet.