New e-tool to improve recognition of meningitis

The charity Meningitis Research Foundation has launched a new an e-learning tool for health professionals to improve their recognition and treatment of young infants who present with suspected bacterial meningitis. The launch was announced at the charity’s annual conference in London in November.

The charity says that young infants are at higher risk of life-threatening meningitis than any other age group, and that newborn babies are particularly susceptible to infection caused by Group B streptococcal bacteria, E. coli or Listeria. Early symptoms of meningitis can resemble other childhood illnesses, but prompt recognition and treatment is essential to reduce morbidity and mortality.

The e-tool was developed in response to a study from St George’s, University of London, funded by the Meningitis Research Foundation and published in BMJ Open (2017;7:e015700), which suggested that bacterial meningitis may not be being diagnosed or treated quickly enough by health professionals in both primary and secondary care. Problems included delays in starting antibiotic treatment, not following NICE guidance on choice of antibiotics, and delays in performing lumbar puncture (essential for the correct diagnosis of bacterial meningitis).

The educational tool, which was developed by the Meningitis Research Foundation in collaboration with the study investigators at St George’s and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, provides clinicians with an opportunity to learn from the real cases in the research study, using anonymised case histories presented in interactive question-and-answer format. The clinical management sections are in alignment with relevant NICE guidelines, including CG149 (antibiotics for early-onset neonatal infection) and CG102 (meningitis (bacterial) and meningococcal septicaemia in under 16s), and direct links to the guidance are provided throughout the e-tool.

The e-tool is available from: http://neonatal.meningitis.org/

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