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Medical Negligence

Meningitis and Septicaemia Claims

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is the swelling of the meninges, which is the lining around the brain and spinal cord, caused mainly by germs entering the body. These same germs can also cause Septicaemia which is blood poisoning.

Meningitis and septicaemia are illnesses that can kill in hours and can result in life changing injuries. 

If you suffer a delay in diagnosis or treatment of the disease, this can result in further extensive and avoidable injuries.


What are the main strains of meningitis?

There are three main (broad) types of meningitis, bacterial, viral, and fungal.

At least 50 kinds of bacteria can cause meningitis, but the three main types are:

  • Meningococcal - Meningococcal bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland. Babies and children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk, but there is a secondary peak of disease amongst teenagers. Meningococcal is life and limb threatening, and if survived often leads to brain injury.
  • Pneumococcal - Pneumococcal meningitis is the second most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland, and in some countries is the most common cause. Most cases of pneumococcal meningitis are in children under two years old, adults over the age of 65 and in those with medical problems that put them at increased risk of disease. Pneumococcal meningitis can be severe and has a higher risk of death and long-term brain damage than most other causes of bacterial meningitis.
  • Group B Streptococcle - This is the main cause of meningitis and septicaemia in new-born babies. It can be transmitted from mother to baby before or during birth, or through contact with adults who handle the baby.


What is Septicaemia?

Septicaemia happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body's own tissues and organs, caused by the same germs that cause meningitis. You cannot catch septicaemia from another person and can often also be called sepsis or blood poisoning.

When detected early, meningitis can often be treated successfully, usually with intravenous antibiotics and fluids. However, once septicaemia develops or vital organs are affected, a person can become very ill very quickly, and the effect can be devastating.


What are the common signs and symptoms of the disease?

Someone who has meningitis or septicaemia can become seriously ill very quickly, so always trust your instincts and get medical help fast by speaking to a health professional.

The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.




Fever and/or vomiting

Severe headache


Limb, joint, or muscle pain


Cold hands, feet, or shivering


Pale or mottled skin


Breathing fast or breathless


Rash anywhere on the body

Stiff neck


Dislike of bright lights


Very sleepy/vacant





What are the after effects of meningitis and septicaemia?

If you have suffered a delay in diagnosis of a bacterial strain of meningitis, the most common effects are:

  • Death
  • Limb loss
  • Sight and/or hearing loss
  • Significant scarring
  • Memory loss
  • Thunderclap headaches and nose bleeds
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • Weakness/paralysis/spasms
  • Speech problems
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • Weakness/paralysis/spasms
  • Speech problems
  • Clumsiness/co-ordination problems
  • Brain injury

The longer the bacteria are not treated, the more significant injuries as a result of septicaemia will be.

The effects tend to be life-changing, but of course the longer the diagnosis and treatment, the more widespread the injuries will be.

The NHS do not have a clear post-meningitis pathway due to the spread of injuries. We work closely alongside the Meningitis Research Foundation who provide helpline and long-term support and signposting services. 


How we can help

Our specialist medical negligence team has considerable experience in handling medical negligence claims involving delays or misdiagnosis in the treatment of meningitis and septicaemia.

We understand the devastating impact that meningitis can have on patients and their loved ones, whether they have been left with life changing injuries, or in support bereaved families.

We work closely alongside the Meningitis Research Foundation who provide helpline and long-term support and signposting services. Helena Campbell, an Associate with our medical negligence team, is an ambassador and be-friender for the Meningitis Research Foundation.


Find out how we can help you

We're ready to help you make your medical negligence compensation claim today. Contact our specialist solicitors for a free initial chat about your situation and find out how you can get started. Use our online enquiry form or call our specialist team on 01392 937 278.

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