Doctor, nurse apologise over meningitis misdiagnosis

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Wellington
A student who now suffers meningitis related disabilities has been apologised to by a doctor and a nurse who said her symptoms were flu-like.
The case from 2014 was reviewed by the Health and Disability Commissioner after a 20-year-old student went to student health services (SHS) after feeling lethargic and having a sore throat for a few days.
The woman has told the HDC that as a direct result of the meningitis she now has an “ongoing neurological disability and adverse consequences which include significant sensorineural hearing loss, arthritis, daily headache, extreme fatigue, memory impairment and concentration problems”.
She and friends called SHS several times in the days following saying she felt worse.
Nurse F said she had “red flags” but wanted to reinforce that she definitely needed to see a doctor “in a safe and timely manner”.
The doctor has said he does not remember the second consultation, and the family acknowledges that she may have had difficulty expressing herself because of her unwellness and that she was crying.
He prescribed her with pain-relief and anti-nausea medication.
At the time of the consultation the doctor said he felt confident that she was was suffering from a viral infection of her upper airways, and “therefore he did not have a differential diagnosis”.
He said her illness was likely a viral illness, and declined her request for antibiotics because of this.
Before her third SHS appointment, she collapsed and was taken to the Emergency Department at the public hospital.
The primary diagnosis given to her condition was meningitis and encephalitis.
Two days after being admitted to hospital she was air-evacuated to another hospital’s ICU for further treatment, and to be closer to her immediate family.
The doctor admits his notes for the woman fell below his usual standards.
“I am genuinely sorry for everything she has been through and I am extremely sorry that she felt she was not treated with dignity and respect.” The nurse, who has since apologised,said: “It is my heartfelt wish that all of this had turned out better for her. Please accept my sincerest best wishes for the future.” NZN

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