Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Explain Some Important Things About The Failure To Diagnose and Treat Meningitis in an Infant
Young babies have developing immune systems that can be vulnerable to some very dangerous infections. One particularly dangerous infection is called meningitis. If this condition is missed, the child can suffer brain damage, blindness, deafness and even death. If the condition is identified, however, the child can be cured with a several rounds of intravenous antibiotics. As a result, early detection and treatment of this condition are critical. Here are some important things you need to know if your child’s meningitis was not diagnosed in time.
What is Infant Meningitis?
Meningitis is when the lining, or meninges, around the brain and spinal cord become inflamed because of an infection. Infant meningitis is primarily caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae, which are commonly spread by infected saliva or mucus. There is also a viral form of meningitis, which is usually spread by food or objects that are contaminated. While either form will make a baby sick, the bacterial version is more dangerous than the viral version and requires immediate and aggressive treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Meningitis?
There are many signs of this infection. However, not every baby experiences all of them. These are some of the common signs and symptoms of this illness:
- Cold hands and feet;
- Refusing food;
- Acting irritated when picked up;
- Unusually sleepy;
- Breathing problems and grunting;
- Paleness, blotches on skin, develops a rash;
- Bulging soft spot on head;
- Stiffness, especially in the neck;
- Getting irritated by lights; and
What is the Treatment for Meningitis?
The type of treatment necessary depends on the type of meningitis. If the infection is bacterial, doctors will admit the baby to the hospital for approximately two weeks, during which time the baby will receive intravenous antibiotics. If the infection is viral, your baby may receive antiviral medication and a brief period of in-hospital monitoring. However, most viral forms of meningitis resolve on their own. Doctors will usually recommend treating your baby simply with rest, plenty of liquids, pain medication and close observation.
What are a Doctor’s Obligations If a Baby Shows Signs of Meningitis?
Doctors are required to recognize and treat infant meningitis because this condition can be deadly. If a doctor suspects infant meningitis, the standard of care requires that the doctor determine whether the baby actually has meningitis, and if so, whether it is viral or bacterial. This is done by performing blood work, urinalysis and, at times, a lumbar puncture. Each of these tests is looking for evidence that is consistent with infection. These tests, including cultures, are used to identify the specific organism causing the infection. Once the specific organism is identified, the most effective antibiotic for the organism causing the infection can be administered to the child.
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