Bacterial meningitis is easy to identify. Doctors just have to do the tests. Why, then, do people die every year from this disease? One of the major reasons is that emergency room personnel, especially, tend to take one look at vomiting and diagnose “nausea”. They all too often leave it at that. The major symptoms for bacterial meningitis
include the following: nausea, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, sleepiness. It is so simple to tell immediately if these symptoms are potential killers with proper tests. The most important test for bacterial meningitis is a spinal tap. Because meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, this test will tell right away if the above symptoms are something common like the flu or a disease more damaging or deadly like bacterial meningitis. When left untreated, this disease causes irreversible damage to the brain, hearing loss, vision loss, learning disabilities, and the ultimate irreversible damage: Death. Medical professionals must take responsibility for the task of diagnosing the patient. We as patients don’t know about tests that could rule out diseases like meningitis. We assume that doctors will give us tests to see if we are going to die or be damaged for life. Simply put, they don’t always. Innocent people die or are irreversibly harmed every day because the doctors did not order tests.
Since young children and college students are at such a high risk for bacterial meningitis, health care professionals should automatically consider testing for meningitis when such symptoms as listed are presented by patients that fall in this high risk group. To fail to diagnose this harmful disease should be considered an act of malpractice by health care professionals. For more information on bacterial meningitis, you can contact the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.