Meningitis:
Misdiagnosis/Delayed Diagnosis

Meningitis is a particularly merciless disease, especially when it strikes children. Prompt diagnosis and medical care are essential to prevent a serious and permanent injury or death. Unfortunately, deadly bacterial meningitis is often dismissed as a viral illness by healthcare professionals who then choose not to perform the appropriate tests—including a CT scan or lumbar puncture—to rule out a bacterial illness. Like all medical negligence cases, those involving meningitis are highly complex in nature and replete with opportunities for negligent parties to avoid taking responsibility. We diligently discover the important facts, retain world-class expert witnesses and methodically prepare meningitis cases for trial in a way that maximizes the opportunity for a verdict that provides justice for our client.

More about meningitis misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis…

Meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges), can come in several forms, including:

  • aseptic meningitis
  • meningitis—gram negative
  • meningitis—H. influenzae
  • meningitis—meningococcal
  • meningitis—pneumococcal
  • meningitis—staphylococcal
  • meningitis—tuberculous

The most common causes of meningitis are viral infections that usually get better without treatment. Viral meningitis usually develops in the late summer and early fall, and often affects children and adults under age 30, though most infections occur in children under age five. Most viral meningitis is due to enteroviruses, which are viruses that also can cause intestinal illness. Many other types of viruses can cause meningitis. For example, viral meningitis can be caused by herpes viruses, the same virus that can cause cold sores and genital herpes (although people with cold sores or genital herpes are not at a greater risk of developing herpes meningitis). Recently, West Nile virus, spread by mosquito bites, has become a cause of viral meningitis in most of the United States.

Viral v. Bacterial Meningitis

Unlike most cases of viral meningitis, bacterial meningitis infections are extremely serious, and may result in death or brain damage, even if treated. Indeed, acute bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment in a hospital. Symptoms usually come on quickly, and may include:

  • fever and chills
  • mental status changes
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • severe headache
  • stiff neck (meningismus)
  • agitation
  • bulging fontanelles
  • decreased consciousness
  • poor feeding or irritability in children
  • rapid breathing
  • unusual posture, with the head and neck arched backwards (opisthotonos)

For any patient who is suspected of having meningitis, it is important to perform a lumbar puncture (“spinal tap”), in which spinal fluid (known as cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) is collected for testing. Other tests that may also be done are:

  • blood culture
  • chest x-ray
  • CSF examination for cell count, glucose and protein
  • CT scan of the head
  • gram stain, other special stains, and culture of CSF

Doctors prescribe antibiotics for bacterial meningitis. The type will vary depending on the bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics are not effective in viral meningitis. Other medications and intravenous fluids will be used to treat symptoms such as brain swelling, shock and seizures. Some people may need to stay in the hospital, depending on the severity of the illness and the treatment needed. Early diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis is essential to prevent permanent neurological damage. Viral meningitis is usually not serious and symptoms should disappear within two weeks with no lasting complications.

Complications

Complications of bacterial meningitis include:

  • brain damage
  • buildup of fluid between the skull and brain (subdural effusion)
  • hearing loss
  • hydrocephalus
  • seizures

If you, your child or a loved one have suffered from a complication related to misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis, of meningitis, we can obtain the necessary medical records and have an expert physician review the file free of charge to determine whether a doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent.

Davis Adams, LLC only represents medical malpractice victims.

$40 million in verdicts and settlements validates our commitment to doing one thing—medical malpractice litigation—and doing it well. We don’t claim to be a jack of all legal trades. In fact, to our knowledge, Davis Adams is the only law firm in Georgia that only represents victims of medical negligence. It’s all we do. And while that fact alone does not necessarily make us better than every other lawyer handling medical malpractice cases, it does mean that our focus is laser sharp on this area of the law. We are immersed in medical litigation every day, quickly spotting trends as they develop, pioneering new legal strategies and tactics to combat the ever changing insurance defense industry and constantly discussing our clients’ cases with leading medical experts around the country. So instead of dividing our time and energy between auto accidents, business disputes and the occasional medical case, we are constantly honing our skills as medical malpractice attorneys.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Davis Adams can help, whether you are located in the Atlanta area or any other part of Georgia.

Davis Adams has two offices: one overlooking downtown Atlanta from the 33rd floor of Centennial Tower, and the other a few miles east in Decatur, Ga.—but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent clients in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton. Wherever you reside in Georgia, when selecting a medical malpractice attorney, we believe that choosing an expert in medical negligence cases is more important that simply hiring the closest attorney. As a client, you have one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us.

What is my medical malpractice case worth?

The vast majority of prospective clients we meet contact us reluctantly. Contrary to the media’s unflattering portrayal of some who file lawsuits, most of our clients are not eager to sue hospitals or doctors, and they understand that money is almost always a poor substitute for one’s health lost as result of a medical error. But the only remedy available through the civil justice system is financial compensation; it’s the only form of “justice” the law allows under these circumstances. After the discovery process has been completed and we have dissected our findings, as we prepare a case for mediation or trial we provide our client with guidance as to the fair value of his or her case. The monetary value of a case depends on the level of injury our client suffers. Injuries take many forms, including:

  • Economic damages, including:
    • Past medical bills
    • Future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans
    • Past lost income
    • Future lost income
  • Non-economic damages, including:
    • Physical pain and suffering
    • Mental or emotional pain and suffering
    • Loss of consortium (companionship)
    • The “full value” of a life (in cases involving death as a result of a medical error)

When Davis Adams agrees to represent a medical malpractice victim, we have one simple demand of the defendants: that our client is paid fairly for what he or she has endured. We cannot, and will not, accept anything less than the full measure of justice to which our client is entitled. Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our client to avoid the risk of trial and to end their case with some measure of certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. More than half of our $40 million in recovered funds is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend doctors and hospitals know that we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.

Our philosophy: fewer cases, more personal attention, better results.

Jess Davis and Chad Adams decline to handle the vast majority of cases presented to their firm. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down business, Davis Adams is committed to doing outstanding, hands-on work for a limited number of catastrophically injured clients instead of employing a team of less experienced associate attorneys to churn through a high volume workload. We simply refuse to become one of those law firms at which the experienced trial lawyers only get involved in the later stages of the case, if at all. From day one, our clients have the collective time, attention, energy, and experience of the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who will be handling their case at trial, which translates to better representation, and better financial recoveries. From time to time other lawyers will ask, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire some young associate attorneys to handle the unimportant parts of your cases?” That question represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how medical malpractice cases are won or lost, and emphasizes the importance of hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney. There are no unimportant tasks in the cases we handle; victory is always in the details and is never achieved at the maximum level without bringing to bear the full weight of our firm’s substantial medical negligence experience, dogged determination and blatant refusal to settle for less than our clients deserve.

We do not accept payment unless our client recovers money.

Davis Adams represents medical malpractice victims on a contingency basis, which means that if we do not recover money for our clients, we will not accept payment for our services. Additionally, our contingency fee, while reflective of our firm’s quality and success, is less than the 50% fee charged by some firms. We simply are not comfortable with earning a fee in a case that is equal to the recovery of our injured client, and therefore have refused to increase our fee.

 

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Decatur Office

one-decatur-town-center

317 W. Hill St., Suite 201
Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: 404.373.8466
Fax: 404.373.8455