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Encephalitis and medical negligence claims

What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by an infection or an inappropriate response from the immune system. It can affect anyone of any age, adults and children, and its effects can be devastating. There are around 6,000 cases of encephalitis each year in the UK.

Encephalitis causes and symptoms

Infectious encephalitis

The most common cause of infectious encephalitis in this country is the herpes simplex virus (the cold sore virus).

Symptoms of infectious encephalitis may be easily mistaken for influenza. More serious symptoms may develop in the following hours, days or even weeks. The symptoms range from mild confusion or drowsiness to loss of consciousness and coma. In some cases the symptoms are similar to and can be mistaken for meningitis.

Autoimmune encephalitis

Autoimmune encephalitis is the term that is used when the body’s own immune system triggers the disease, often, but not only, in response to a mild viral infection.

Autoimmune encephalitis usually develops over a longer period of time. Symptoms may include confusion, personality or behavioural changes, psychosis, movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, memory loss or sleep disturbances.

How is encephalitis treated?

Recognising the symptoms of encephalitis early is crucial. Lumbar punctures, brain scans and blood tests are common ways of testing for the disease. Treatment may be with antiviral or antibiotic drugs, and sometimes secondary treatment is needed to manage symptoms. Autoimmune encephalitis may be treated with steroids, plasma exchange or intravenous immunoglobulin.

Why might medical negligence occur?

Encephalitis is not easy to diagnose or treat. Despite the best efforts of the doctors involved in a patient’s care, the outcome is not always what the patient or their family would hope for. On rare occasions the standard of treatment received by a patient may fall short of that which the medical profession itself would expect. That may be in relation to:

  • A failure to diagnose the condition
  • A failure to carry out appropriate tests
  • A failure to provide the appropriate treatment

Do I have a claim?

An individual, or their family in the event of death, may have a medical negligence claim if it can be shown that the medical profession itself would consider the treatment provided unacceptable, and that the outcome has been made materially worse as a result of a failure in the medical treatment.

In this instance the patient and/or their family require a solicitor with expertise in medical negligence law, and encephalitis in particular.

Making an encephalitis medical negligence claim

Our medical negligence team specialise in encephalitis and have strong working relationships with leading encephalitis experts. We will work with these experts to identify your on-going needs and in consequence the level of compensation appropriate to your particular claim. These may include:

  • Neurologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Neuropsychiatrists
  • Speech & language experts
  • Hearing experts
  • Occupational therapists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Care specialists
  • Employment specialists
  • Education specialists

We can also help with issues relating to the provision of NHS or local authority care, capacity and the ability to deal with financial affairs, educational provision, end of life issues and many other legal issues that may arise, whether related to a claim for compensation or not.

Specialist encephalitis claims solicitors

Our medical negligence solicitors are experts in complex claims relating to encephalitis in particular. We are proud to support the Encephalitis Society and share their aim “To improve the quality of life of all people affected directly and indirectly by encephalitis.

Our friends at Clarke Willmott have been a fantastic support to the Encephalitis Society for the past 6 years. Not only have they championed awareness of encephalitis through campaigns such as World Encephalitis Day, they have become a listening and expert ear for our community who may need their legal advice. We are very grateful to work alongside them to build a world where encephalitis matters to everyone.

– Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society

Speak to a medical negligence solicitor that specialises in encephalitis

If you think you may have a compensation claim arising out of treatment of encephalitis call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

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Your key contacts

Kerry Fifield

Partner and Clinical Negligence Team Manager

Kerry’s primary focus is the needs of the client and their family when pursuing a claim, taking into account that each client is an individual with specific requirements who needs to be supported in addition to the legal investigation.
View profile for Kerry Fifield >

Marguarita Tyne

Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Marguarita Tyne is a claimant clinical negligence solicitor who investigates and brings claims on behalf of patients who have been injured during the course of their medical treatment, acting mainly (but not exclusively) for brain injury claimants in high value and often complex litigation.
View profile for Marguarita Tyne >

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