Thursday, November 27, 2008

Meningitis and the Shana Foundation

Bacterial meningitis is a devastating illness that results in many deaths of children and young adults every year. One family in New Jersey is turning their own tragedy into an educational message designed to save the lives and prevent the heartbreak of other families.

The Asbury Park Press reports the story of 19-year-old Shana Wasserman who died of bacterial meningitis at Monmouth Medical Center in 2006. Shana’s mother, Madeline Wasserman, started the Shana Foundation in her daughter’s memory.

The mission of the Shana Foundation is to raise awareness about the danger of bacterial meningitis.

To that end, the Shana Foundation unveiled a new plaque at the Monmouth Medical Center Emergency Room on June 25, 2008. The plaque is designed to help emergency room staff follow proper protocols and take appropriate actions if they suspect a patient has bacterial meningitis. Specifically, the plaque has something of a flow chart on it that will help doctors follow all appropriate steps in diagnosing this disease. The plaque was designed by Dr. Allan Tunkel, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Monmouth Medical Center.

The Shana Foundation has also talked to the New Jersey legislature about including the warning signs of bacterial meningitis in the public school curriculum. They continue to hold fundraisers and plan public awareness campaigns. It is the goal of the organization to have plaques similar to the one unveiled at Monmouth Medical Center in every emergency room in New Jersey and across the nation.
Failure to properly diagnose bacterial meningitis in a timely fashion is a health risk and often an example of medical malpractice. While the goal should always be timely and accurate diagnosis to prevent the potentially devastating effects of this disease, it is also important that patients who are not appropriately diagnosed know their legal rights.

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