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Meningitis Misdiagnosis Claims

Meningitis can be devastating, but if you’ve been suffering from long term meningitis complications as a result of someone else’s negligences; if medical professionals delayed diagnosis, or worse, gave you a meningitis misdiagnosis, you could be eligible to claim compensation.

Meningitis misdiagnosis compensation claims

Meningitis is a serious condition which can affect anyone of any age. The majority of people who catch meningitis go on to make a full recovery. But for some, there are often serious long term complications and ongoing health ramifications. If there’s been a delayed diagnosis, or a meningitis misdiagnosis, even by a few hours, the consequences can be life changing, even fatal.

You have every right to make a compensation claim if you have suffered serious consequences following a meningitis misdiagnosis or as a result of medical negligence. Pursuing a meningitis negligence claim could give you the financial support you need to fund long term care, provide rehabilitation and physiotherapy, or simply give you compensation for any pain and suffering you’ve endured.

To find out more about how to make a medical negligence compensation claim for a meningitis misdiagnosis, call free on 0800 234 6438 and speak to a trained legal advisor. They’ll answer all your questions and if they believe you have a claim, they’ll partner you with a specialist medical negligence lawyer who will work on your claim on a no win no fee basis.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious infection of the meninges—the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. It’s generally caused by either a viral or bacterial infection – both infectious and non-infectious agents. It may also be referred to as meningococcal disease, bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis, fungal meningitis, or parasitic meningitis.

Viral meningitis is usually less severe and resolves itself without specific treatment after a few weeks. Bacterial meningitis is much more serious and life threatening; if left untreated it can lead to permanent disability or death.

What are the different types of meningitis?

Viral meningitis

Viral meningitis is usually a result of a viral infection. Viruses like the herpes virus, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella enter your bloodstream or lymph system and travel to your brain where they trigger an immune response that causes meningitis symptoms.

Viral meningitis is most common in children under one year old, but older children can also get it too. It’s rare for adults to develop viral meningitis as they usually have antibodies from childhood infections they had as kids which protect them from getting other viruses later in life (but not from bacteria).

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is much more serious and life threatening than viral meningitis. It requires immediate medical care including antibiotics to treat the infection. Symptoms are similar to viral meningitis, but they usually appear more quickly and progress faster.

The most common bacteria that cause this condition are pneumococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Listeria monocytogenes, and Group B Streptococcus (GBS).

Fungal meningitis

Fungal meningitis is rare and not contagious. The most common fungal meningitis is cryptococcal meningitis, which is caused by a fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans. It’s usually found in people who have compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as AIDS, leukemia, or an organ transplant from an infected donor.

A fungal infection may also occur after certain surgeries involving the spine or brain, or during organ transplants when antibiotics suppress your body’s ability to fight off these organisms.

Parasitic meningitis

Parasitic meningitis is caused by the presence of a parasite in the brain that affects your nervous system. This type of meningitis is incredibly rare. This disease can be passed to humans from animals.

The most common cause of this type of meningitis is an amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. These type of bacteria live in freshwater lakes, or poorly maintained swimming pools and can infect swimmers. The amoeba enters the body through the nose, before travelling to the brain, where it causes a very serious condition known as Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM).

What are the signs and symptoms of meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious infection of the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. It’s most commonly caused by bacteria or viruses, but can also be caused by fungi or parasites, or by injury to the head or neck.

Symptoms typically develop quickly over a few hours to three days. The most common symptom is headache but you may also have:

  • High temperature / fever – especially if you have bacterial meningitis
  • Rash that doesn’t go away when pressed with a glass
  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Stiff neck – which occurs in 90% of cases; it often improves after lying down or sitting up slowly
  • Vomiting

The symptoms of viral meningitis are similar to those of bacterial meningitis. You may feel unwell and tired, or have headaches and a fever. You might also experience neck stiffness, muscle aches and pains across your body, vomiting, diarrhoea or sensitivity to light.

If you think you or someone you care for has meningitis, seek medical advice immediately. A prompt diagnosis could be the difference between life and death.

How do you diagnose meningitis?

Meningitis may be suspected based on symptoms, but diagnosis requires a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal cord (taken via a lumbar puncture) to be analysed in a lab. Some people with meningitis have only mild symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose.

The doctor will numb the area and insert a thin needle into your lower back region. You may feel some discomfort or pressure as the needle enters your spine and when it withdraws after taking the sample of cerebrospinal fluid, but this should be brief.

Treating meningitis

Treatment for meningitis needs to be given quickly, as leaving it, or making a misdiagnosis can be devastating.

For most people with viral meningitis, they won’t need hospital treatment, as it tends to clear up on its own in a few weeks.

Bacterial meningitis on the other hand are very serious and will require hospital treatment, as well as antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and oxygen. Steroids may also be administered to reduce swelling on the brain.

Treatment for parasitic meningitis includes anti-parasitic drugs like albendazole for adults and children over one year old, or mebendazole for children under one year old (the treatment will vary depending on where you live).

Further treatment may be required or support if you suffer with long term complications of meningitis. For example physiotherapy or aural implants to help with hearing loss. Children may require specialist educational support.

What are the long term complications of meningitis?

Meningitis is a very serious infection that can lead to permanent disability or death if not treated quickly. While the long-term complications of meningitis are rare, they can be severe and have a lasting impact on your life.

Long term complications can include:

Brain damage/brain injury

Brain damage is a serious risk of meningitis. It can cause problems with memory, concentration, attention and speech. It may also cause problems with movement, balance and muscle coordination. In very rare cases it can lead to epilepsy – an illness that causes repeated seizures or fits.

Hearing and vision problems

Hearing and vision problems are common in survivors of meningitis. These issues can be caused by damage to your brain, nerves or ears or eyes—and the effects may be permanent or temporary.


You can lose limbs from meningitis. The longer you wait to get help, or the longer it takes for you to get help, the more likely it is that you’ll lose a limb. If your hands or feet are affected by meningitis and septicemia has already spread through your body, your doctor may need to amputate them in order for you to survive.

Are you or a loved one are suffering from complications of meningitis caused by someone else’s negligence? To find out if you could be eligible to claim compensation, please call 0800 234 6438 or fill in the online form to request a call back. A trained legal advisor will listen to what’s happened to you, and will determine whether you could be entitled to claim compensation.

Meningitis medical negligence claims

Medical negligence, in the eyes of the law, is where a doctor or hospital fail to provide care to a standard expected of them.

In order for a doctor to diagnose meningitis accurately, they must conduct blood tests and possibly other types of tests such as CT scans or MRI scans too. If these diagnostic tests are done incorrectly then it may lead to incorrect diagnosis of meningitis – meaning that the wrong treatment is given, which may result in further complications from the disease itself (i.e., septicemia/blood poisoning which can cause permanent brain damage, or require limb amputation to prevent the septicemia from spreading).

If doctors don’t arrange for diagnostic tests quickly enough when they suspect either bacterial or viral meningitis, then this means they have failed in their duty of care towards their patient.

The NHS publishes specific guidelines which state that doctors should arrange a test for meningitis within 6 hours of the patient presenting with symptoms. If the doctor fails to do this, they may be acting negligently.

Types of meningitis medical negligence can include:

  • Not being referred to hospital or not being referred early enough by your GP
  • Doctors not prescribing or administering antibiotics while waiting for confirmation of a meningitis diagnosis
  • Insufficient monitoring of the patient
  • Administering the wrong treatment
  • Meningitis misdiagnosis

If you’ve been left injured or ill following medical treatment then it’s only right that you should be able to seek compensation. Being ill is stressful enough at the best of times, and the knowledge that the medical practitioners in whom you placed your trust have let you down can be deeply distressing.

If you think you were the victim of any of these mistakes – if your meningitis was misdiagnosed, or you had a delayed diagnosis and you suffered as a result, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim.

DID YOU KNOW: Most personal injury solicitors offer no win no fee compensation arrangements, taking away the financial risk of starting a claim.

Am I eligible to claim compensation for meningitis negligence?

If you’ve suffered complications of meningitis due to someone’s negligence, either wholly or partially, for example:

  • A doctor missed the early signs of meningitis
  • There was a delay in your meningitis diagnosis or delivering treatment
  • Or you received the wrong treatment

You could be eligible to claim for meningitis misdiagnosis compensation.

The main difference between claims for medical negligence and other types of claim lies in the complexity of the circumstances. A car shunting into yours from behind causing injury is relatively simple to prove. Demonstrating that an illness such as meningitis has been wrongly diagnosed, less so. But that’s not to say it can’t be done.

An expert personal injuries lawyer will know exactly how to go about building your meningitis misdiagnosis case, including accessing the expert witness testimony which may be required if the case reaches court.

If you feel you may have been let down then call free on 0800 234 6438 and discuss your details with a trained legal adviser. They’ll listen to you and offer advice free of charge. If there’s a good chance you could be eligible for compensation then they’ll put your in touch with an expert solicitor who has experience in meningitis claims, who – with your permission – will set about building the strongest possible case on a no win no fee basis.

How much compensation could I receive for a successful meningitis claim?

The amount of compensation you can get for misdiagnosed meningitis depends on the severity of your symptoms. For example, the longer it took for your diagnosis to be rectified, resulting in more severe symptoms is likely to be awarded a higher amount of compensation. If you also suffered serious complications it’s likely to increase the amount of compensation you could receive.

Every personal injury claim is different, as such, the exact amount of compensation you could be entitled to will be unique to your precise situation.

Your medical negligence team will look at all the evidence leading up to the misdiagnosis or medical negligence, and the impact the misdiagnosis or negligence has had on your quality of life, or is likely to have on your future quality of life, and will calculate a figure accordingly.

They’ll take into account special damages i.e. financial losses incurred as a result of the meningitis, and general damages i.e. pain and suffering you’ve experienced, including the impact the meningitis has had on your quality of life.

The Judicial College guidelines provides a rough guide for compensation amounts:

  • Minor brain injury – £2,070-£11,980
  • Very severe brain damage – £264,650-£379,100
  • Below-elbow arm amputation – £90,250-£102,890
  • Total loss of hearing – £85,170-£102,890

How long do I have to make a meningitis compensation claim?

Like most personal injury claims, you have three years from when the medical negligence occurred, or when you first became aware of its impact, to make a claim.

If you or a family member was under 18 at the time of the medical negligence, you/they have three years from their 18th birthday to make a claim.

If the person affected doesn’t have the mental capability to make a claim, there is no time limit.

If your loved one has sadly passed away, you have three years from the date of their passing to make a claim.

How to make a successful claim for meningitis misdiagnosis

Any successful claim for compensation calls for two basic requirements, and medical negligence claims are no different.

  1. The first requirement is a demonstration that you or the person on whose behalf you are claiming has indeed suffered an illness or injury. In the case of a misdiagnosis, this will generally involve seeking medical help and getting an expert opinion.
  2. The second part of the claim will be establishing that someone was negligent in not spotting the illness in the first place. This will mean showing that the symptoms, at the time, were such that a medical practitioner might reasonably have been expected to spot and correctly identify them.

To help your specialist medical negligence solicitors put together the strongest case for you, it can be helpful to gather evidence to support your claim:

  • Copies of medical reports, letters, discharge summaries that show what you were diagnosed with and what treatment was given
  • Medical records showing any complications caused by the meningitis
  • Any permanent damage or disability caused by the meningitis i.e. deafness or loss of limbs
DID YOU KNOW: Incidents of meningitis are thankfully relatively low. In 2019/20, there were 461 confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis in England.


Can I make a meningitis misdiagnosis claim against the NHS?

Yes, if you think that your illness was misdiagnosed, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim against the NHS. To do this, you will need to show that the doctor or medical professional in question failed to meet the standards of care expected from a doctor in their field, and that this failure resulted in you suffering harm.

For example, if your doctor failed to diagnose meningitis when it was obvious that you had the condition (for example because of symptoms like headaches or vomiting), they could have been negligent by not doing so.

Misdiagnosis involving a private medical practice

The medical negligence cases which make the headlines tend to be those involving large NHS trusts, but the truth is that anyone offering medical treatment has a duty to meet certain standards and should expect to be sued if they fail to do so.

Therefore, you have every right to bring a claim against even the smallest clinic or practice if they fail to spot that someone is suffering from an illness such as meningitis. The results of such a mistake could be devastating, up to and including long term disability or even death, and you really shouldn’t be expected to just accept the consequences and move on.

Can I claim compensation for meningitis misdiagnosis even after a full recovery?

If you’re ill in any way as a result of someone else’s negligence, then the thing you’ll be hoping for above all else is that you will make a full recovery. Even if you do, the fact that you suffered needlessly in the first place should still be recognised via compensation. Had a correct diagnosis been made in the first place, for example, then your recovery may well have been quicker and your pain and distress less. This will be reflected in any compensation you receive.

Can I make a medical negligence claim on a no win no fee basis?

Yes. Simply call today and speak with a trained legal advisor about making a no win no fee meningitis misdiagnosis claim. They will offer you free, impartial advice about pursuing a claim. They will listen to your story, and if they feel you have a claim, they will pass your details onto specialist medical negligence solicitors who will partner with you on a no win no fee basis.

You won’t have to pay legal fees upfront, and if your claim is successful, your solicitor will take their fee out of your compensation. If your claim isn’t successful, you won’t have to pay a penny. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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