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Report: Half of All Meningitis Cases Misdiagnosed By GPs


The families of a large proportion of children with meningitis may have had grounds to launch a medical negligence case against their GP, following a recent study published in the British Journal of General Practice.

According to the report, which looked at 1,200 cases in surgeries across Oxfordshire and Somerset, approximately 50 per cent of all youngsters with the illness were initially misdiagnosed by their doctor - an issue that has been of concern for parents, support groups and medical negligence solicitors for some time.

Meningitis is an infection caused by bacteria or a virus, which damages the protective membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain.

The condition can, in some cases, lead to cerebral palsy, amputation, deafness or another long term injury if it is not treated urgently.

In addition, the research noted there are a number of key symptoms of meningitis that should not be ignored: neck pain, leg pain, stiffness, confusion and photophobia, combined with increased temperature, general sickness and fever.

However, it found cold hands and feet, a pale colour and headaches are not necessarily reliable signs of the illness, while the classic meningitis rash appears later during an infection.

Commenting on the findings of the study, medical negligence expert Richard Money-Kyrle at Darbys Solicitors LLP said: "GPs are in a difficult position, seeing many ill children with general symptoms and having to decide which require paediatric assessment and which can safely stay at home. The catastrophic nature of meningitis and septicaemia make these life and death decisions. The better the GPs’ training and higher the index of suspicion, the safer children will be.

"At Darbys Solicitors, our medical negligence experts have successfully acted for children whose meningitis and septicaemia have not been diagnosed promptly and who have suffered catastrophic injury as a result. The human cost of failures to refer is immense and unfortunately, despite the best advice to primary health care professionals, mistakes will continue. So too will the need for free access to expert legal representation.

“The government’s present proposals to withdraw funding for legal assistance from children who have suffered meningitis - if carried through - will inevitably prevent some of those most needing help from being able to access specialist legal assistance.”

Mr Money-Kyrle went on to add that Darbys is committed to fighting for justice for all victims of medical accidents, regardless of the difficulties put in their way by either the NHS or government.

Darbys Solicitors LLP is a leading UK law firm with expert solicitors providing a wide range of legal services. For more information on meningitis medical negligence compensation claims, visit the company’s dedicated website:


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