Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Diagnosing Bacterial Meningitis: Who's to Blame?

Bacterial meningitis is a life threatening illness that is often difficult to diagnose.
In fact, trained physicians often have trouble distinguishing bacterial meningitis from the common flu. In some cases, treatment of bacterial meningitis is delayed until too late.

So, what obligation should first responders, such as police officers, have in recognizing the symptoms of bacterial meningitis? This question is among the issues raised by a Pennsylvania widow who blames the state police for her husband’s death from meningitis.

Yaffa Brautigam claims that the inaction on the part of the police officer led to her husband’s death. Her husband was home alone with their three sons, ages 7-10, when he became ill. The children became concerned and tried to reach their mother who was overseas at the time. The middle child decided to walk to the grocery store and was found by a neighbor. The neighbor called 911 and a state trooper responded the call.

According to the family, the trooper came to the house and talked the boys about not wandering in the streets. He then allegedly looked in on their father who could only raise his head and moan. The trooper left and three days later the man died of bacterial meningitis.

The widow has filed a complaint with the state police claiming that the officer should have realized that her husband was gravely ill and called an ambulance. She also plans to file a lawsuit against the state police for their inaction so that a tragedy like this does not happen to another family.

The state police report that troopers are trained in first aid and CPR but are not trained in the symptoms of infectious disease. An investigation is ongoing in this case.

For more information about the family’s claims, please visit The Patriot – News website.

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