The Meningitis Research Foundation is campaigning for more urgency and monitoring to ensure that parents receive proper advice regarding potential bacterial meningitis and sepsis cases among babies and young children. Kirstie Walkden, a mother to a nine month old, is supporting this campaign.
Mrs Walkden’s daughter, Amy, had been taken to A&E after her mother noticed that she seemed unwell. Amy was diagnosed with an ear infection and sent home with medicine, but two days later her condition had worsened. Amy was no longer eating and drinking, and had an alarmingly high temperature. Mrs Walkden took her to hospital, where, as she states, “All hell broke loose”. Amy was placed in an induced coma within an hour and diagnosed with first sepsis, then pneumococcal meningitis. Amy was discharged 18 days later, and is now doing well, though it will be a few years before the family will know if there is any long-term effects of her illness.
Mrs Walkden states she felt initially reassured when the hospital told her that Amy had an ear infection. “We were not told to look out for anything else,” she states, “If we had, we might have brought her in sooner.”
The NHS advisory board, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), has stated that the NHS should provide parents with “safety netting” advice if they bring in children with symptoms that could be sign of meningitis and sepsis. These conditions can be challenging to identify as the symptoms are similar to many less serious ailments.
A report from the Meningitis Research Foundation has suggested that this safety netting does not always happen, citing research from last year that indicates nearly a third of young babies with meningitis receive inappropriate early treatment that delays parents seeking help. Early correct diagnosis is important as meningitis can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Meningitis can result in permanent damage to the brain as well as a risk of Sepsis. In the past 10 years, there has been between 700 and 1,300 reported cases of meningococcal disease each year in the UK, with between 5% and 10% of these cases resulting in death.
A working group established by government ministers has made a number of recommendations to improve care, including that it should be documented in patient’s notes when safety netting information has been provided. The NHS is currently in the process of implementing these recommendations. Additionally, the Royal College of GPs also says it has made the issue a top priority in recent years.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456, so that we can discuss your concerns.