Encephalitis and Medical Negligence

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. The most common cause of Infectious Encephalitis in this country is the herpes simplex virus (the cold sore virus). Autoimmune Encephalitis is the term used to describe the illness when the body’s own immune system triggers the illness, often but not only as a result of a reaction to mild viral infection.

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 usually takes longer to develop and has a variety of symptoms which can include confusion, altered personality or behaviour, psychosis, movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, memory loss or sleep disturbance.

Recognition of the symptoms, conducting swift tests, such as lumbar punctures, brain scans or blood tests is important. Treatment may be with antiviral or antibiotic drugs, secondary treatment to control symptoms or sedate is sometimes required. Autoimmune Encephalitis may be treated by steroids or plasma exchange or intravenous immunoglobulin.

Why might medical negligence occur?

Encephalitis is not easy to diagnose. Encephalitis is not easy to treat and despite the best efforts of doctors involved in a patient’s care, the outcome is not always what the patient or his or her family would hope for. On rare occasions it is possible that 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 or a failure to provide the appropriate treatment.

In those cases where it can be shown that the medical profession considered the treatment unacceptable and that the outcome has been made materially worse as a result of the failing in the medical treatment, it is possible that an individual, or their family in the event of death, may have a potential medical negligence claim. If that is the case, the patient and his or her family require experienced solicitors with an understanding of both the law relating to medical negligence claims and problems relating to encephalitis in particular. The medical negligence team at Clarke Willmott are specialists in this area.

Making a medical negligence claim

In the event that it is possible to establish a claim we have strong working relationships with many leading experts in the field, who will help 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 problems, whether related to a claim for compensation or not.

Specialist encephalitis claims solicitors

Our experienced and expert Solicitors are approved by the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme, the Action Against Medical Accidents (AVMA) Accreditation Scheme, Headway, UKABIF and the Child Brain Injury Trust.

We are also proud to support The Encephalitis Society. We believe that our aims are consistent with theirs – “To improve the quality of life of all people affected directly and indirectly by encephalitis”.

The Encephalitis Society logo

Related services

Helpful links

Speak to a medical negligence solicitor

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.