While most bacteria are beneficial to our health - helping us digest food or fight diseases - there are a few bacteria, if left untreated, that can be extremely harmful to humans, even to the point of causing death. Bacteria are living single-celled organisms that have the ability to reproduce very quickly and are generally treated easily with antibiotics. Therefore, it is imperative to treat a bacterial infection right away.
Delayed diagnosis of a bacterial infection may have damaging consequences on your health; this is especially true with particularly potent bacteria such as bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is especially dangerous to young children, as it may be misdiagnosed as a minor viral infection. If there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, bacterial meningitis can cause:
- Brain damage
- Heart damage
Bacterial meningitis provides just one example of the damage that a delayed, misdiagnosed or wrongfully treated bacterial infection can have. If you are being treated for an illness and are not noticing a turn for the better after being on medication, make sure you go back to the doctor and advocate for your own health - not doing so may have severe consequences.
Advocate for Your Health
When it comes to your health and your body, do not sit passively by. You have to be your own best advocate:
- Speak up! It is said that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. So do not sit idly by and assume doctors and nurses will notice when you are not getting better, bring it to their attention - repeatedly. If you do not get an answer to your question, speak up until you are heard.
- Demand to be seen by a doctor. If you or a loved one is not getting better or are actually getting worse, go in and see the doctor. Do not just be seen by a nurse, demand to be seen by a physician.
- Do your own research. Just because a doctor has gone to medical school that does not mean that you cannot do your own research and learn about your health. Use the Internet, the library or other resource to learn about and understand your health and what may be happening to it.
- If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. When you notice something that doesn't seem right, ask questions.
A delayed or misdiagnosis can have harmful consequences to your health. If you have been injured because of a delayed medical diagnosis, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.