Meningitis can present itself as a viral infection or a bacteria, and this means that babies, with their less developed immune systems, are particularly susceptible to developing this condition.
Once detected, meningitis can be treated, but if the diagnosis and treatment do not happen immediately, the baby’s condition can quickly spiral downward into any of the following serious complications:
- Brain damage, including cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Memory problems
- Kidney failure
- Learning disabilities
- Gait problems
- Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
- The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.
If your baby contracted meningitis and suffered injury as a complication of the infection, we can review your case and determine whether you have a claim for birth injury medical malpractice. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at 1-800-222-9529.
Infant Meningitis Lawsuits & Injury Cases
If your newborn baby contracted meningitis as the result of your doctor’s failure to diagnose and/or treat the infection, and your infant suffered physical complications as a result, you deserve to receive compensation. Quite possibly, your physician and/or other health care professionals surrounding your pregnancy may be liable for medical malpractice.
Holding any of these healthcare professionals liable for your baby’s condition is not as simple as proving your baby’s injury. Medical malpractice law requires that you, as the plaintiff, establish the following:
- Your health care provider (the defendant) was obligated to uphold the standard of care: This means that the care that medical providers gave should have met the same level of skill and care that a provider with similar training would have exhibited in a similar situation.
- Breach: The plaintiff must establish how the health care provider failed to uphold the medical standard of care.
- Causation and Injury: The health care provider’s failure to uphold the standard of care caused a quantifiable injury to your baby.
To establish the above, your attorney will present not only medical records for the mother and infant, but also the expert opinions of medical professionals who work in the same profession, with the same specialty, and the same experience as the defendant.
An infant meningitis lawyer will also bring in other experts in the fields of medicine, economics, vocational therapy, and life-care planning to review your baby’s documented prognosis and extrapolate from it an estimated value for the damages that you, your baby, and your family will face over the course of your baby’s lifetime as a result of his or her medical condition.
These experts will be able to estimate costs and values for all the economic, physical, and emotional costs attached to your infant’s meningitis, including the following types of damages:
- Medical care and expenses (past, present, future, and ongoing)
- Surgeon’s fees
- Physical therapy
- Mobility and other assistive devices
- Other specialized equipment
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Wages lost due to parent needing to care for a disabled infant and child
- Special education costs
- Loss of family relationships (consortium)
Infant Meningitis Types
Meningitis types are characterized by their causes, as follows:
- Viral Meningitis – The most common type of meningitis; treatable, but with slow recovery
- Bacterial Meningitis – Demands urgent treatment; can cause many after-effects
- Meningococcal Disease – When meningitis and blood poisoning (septicemia) present simultaneously; 10 percent of these cases are fatal
- Pneumococcal Meningitis – When infectious disease results in inflammation of layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord; life-threatening
- Tuberculosis (TB) Meningitis – Caused by Mycobacterium TB bacteria, usually starting in the lungs
- Group B Streptococcal Meningitis – Main cause of meningitis in infants
- Neonatal Meningitis – Manifest within the first 28 days of life; characterized by the amount of time elapsed between birth and the onset of the disease (early-onset or late-onset)
- E. Coli Meningitis – Caused by E. coli bacteria in the mother’s intestines and vagina
- Fungal Meningitis – Extremely rare, with symptoms presenting gradually
- Rare Types of Meningitis – Caused by chemicals, fungi, and amoeba
Infant Meningitis Causes
Meningitis is most commonly caused by viral infections, with bacterial infections presenting the second most common cause.
- If bacteria move from the bloodstream to the brain and spinal cord—or when bacteria attack the meninges–an infant can suffer from acute bacterial meningitis. This type of bacterial invasion can result from skull fractures, sinus/ear infections, or surgery.
- A certain group of viruses called enteroviruses typically cause viral meningitis. Alternatively, it can result from HIV, mumps, West Nile virus, and herpes simplex virus.
- When slow-growing organisms, like fungus, attack the membranes and fluid around the brain, chronic meningitis results. This is a life-threatening, but rare form of meningitis, most common in individuals who suffer from immune deficiencies.
- Other factors, such as drug allergies, certain cancers, chemical reactions, and inflammatory diseases can also cause meningitis.
Infant Meningitis Symptoms
Because of their inability to communicate, infants who suffer from meningitis can be harder to diagnose. Common symptoms to be on the look-out for include:
- Bulge in the fontanel (soft spot on top of the infant’s head)
- High fever
- Jaundice (yellowish skin)
- Constant, inconsolable crying
- Stiff body and neck
- Relatively low temperature
- Excessive sleepiness
- High-pitched cry
- Poor feeding
- Stiffness in a baby’s body and neck
Infant Meningitis Diagnosis and Treatment
When a baby displays enough of the above symptoms to raise a concern of meningitis, the doctor will confirm the diagnosis with tests, including a spinal tap. By analyzing the infant’s spinal fluid, the doctor can determine whether a virus or bacteria is present and causing infection. Any indication of inflammation will also be apparent with this test.
In the event of a bacterial meningitis diagnosis, the physician will immediately begin administering intravenous antibiotics. The healthcare provider may also administer fluids to counter the loss of fluids from the infant’s sweating, poor eating, vomiting, and fever.
Infant Meningitis Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has Infant Meningitis?
Parents and caregivers should watch for the signs and symptoms indicated above. If enough manifest to warrant concern, you should take your baby to the doctor or hospital immediately for urgent diagnosis and treatment.
Can Infant Meningitis be fatal?
Yes, infant meningitis can be fatal. It is critical that doctors diagnose and treat meningitis early to prevent this tragic outcome.
Who is liable for Infant Meningitis?
Your physician is ultimately responsible for monitoring you through your pregnancy, checking for viruses at strategic stages, and treating you accordingly. Furthermore, after delivery, the doctor should be paying close attention to the familiar signs and symptoms of infant meningitis. Without a timely diagnosis and treatment, an infected baby can suffer life-altering complications or even death. In such cases, it is possible that the doctor or other health care provider involved in your pregnancy, delivery, or childcare can be liable for your baby’s health condition.
What is the statute of limitations for Infant Meningitis?
If you plan to file a legal complaint for your child’s infant meningitis, you will face the time constraints imposed by your state’s statutes of limitations. These limitations differ from one state to the next. Your medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer will work within the time limitation requirements established by the state in which you reside.
Your birth injury lawyer will also need to be aware of the statutes of repose, which activate the statute of limitations clock in your case, regardless of signs of injury. While these statutes tend to favor the defendant, states also usually account for minors with the provision of a tolling allowance, which serves to extend the statutes of limitations for individuals who are under the age of 18.
Infant Meningitis Glossary Terms
- Bulging Fontanel – A protrusion in the soft spot at the top your baby’s head
- Non-Polio Enteroviruses – The second most common viruses that infect humans, these viruses include Coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, enterovirus D68, and others
- Sepsis- Serious infection that results when bacteria produce toxins that attack the body’s own organs and tissues.
The Infant Meningitis attorneys at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can review your baby’s medical case and explain your legal options for pursuing compensation from the health care professionals we deem liable for your baby’s injuries.
We will champion your right to recover your economic, physical, and emotional damages. Call us today at 1-800-222-9529 for a free consultation.