Necrotizing fasciitis is a group of aggressive and fast-spreading skin and soft tissue infections that cause subcutaneous tissue and muscle fascia necrosis (death). The infection typically travels along the fascial plane surrounding the muscles. Overlying tissues are initially unaffected, which can delay diagnosis and treatment. The infection rapidly spreads, causing infection of the fascia, perifascial planes, underlying and overlying skin, soft tissue, and muscle.
The best outcomes for patients with necrotizing fasciitis come from obtaining accurate diagnoses and immediate treatment. Treatment begins with antibiotics, typically administered intravenously. In many cases, surgery is also needed to remove dead tissue. Often, more than one surgery is required, and significant soft tissue loss and scarring occurs. Skin grafting to cover areas of tissue loss may also be necessary.
The flesh-eating disease spreads rapidly and aggressively. It destroys tissue and leads to severe infection, shock, and organ failure. Even when treatment is prompt and correct, one out of three people die from necrotizing fasciitis.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a fast-moving infection. Its development depends on which bacteria is its cause. Some cases of the infection can become fatal in just a couple of days, while others may have a slower progression. However, even if the infection progresses slower, significant tissue deterioration is still likely to happen in four or five days.
Early signs of necrotizing fasciitis include intense pain and swelling in the affected area. Redness and blisters may develop within 48 hours, and fever, fatigue, and loss of sensation typically follow as the subcutaneous tissue dies. If the infection is left untreated, the patient will likely develop blood poisoning and begin to show signs of confusion within four to five days. Once the infection has entered the bloodstream, the condition may cause shock and death.
Many of the complications of necrotizing fasciitis are severe. They often include:
The key to successful recovery from necrotizing fasciitis is prompt diagnosis and treatment. Doctors should suspect necrotizing fasciitis if a patient presents with red and swollen skin with pain that is disproportionate to the apparent problem. It may also be apparent that the patient has a wound to the skin with blisters present.
When necrotizing fasciitis is suspected, the patient must be given broad-spectrum antibiotics. At the same time, examinations and laboratory and x-ray testing are performed to determine exactly which bacteria is causing the condition. The patient can then be put on a more specific antibiotic for the type of bacteria. Because the damage caused by necrotizing fasciitis occurs deep under the skin's surface, it may be necessary to perform exploratory surgery to diagnose the condition properly.
The patient will also need emergency surgery to remove any tissue the bacteria has already damaged. This is known as debridement. If this isn’t done, the tissue death will spread to surrounding organs. Even when debridement is conducted, all infected tissue must be removed to stop the spread of the disease. If this is unsuccessful, further surgery may be necessary daily as signs of further tissue damage become evident.
In extreme cases, partial or full limb amputation may be necessary to prevent the spread of the infection, and it may be necessary to have subsequent plastic surgeries to repair some of the damage and scarring caused by necrotizing fasciitis.
If you or your family has been affected by the devastating impact of necrotizing fasciitis, and you believe that it could have been prevented with more efficient medical care, contact us at Ross Feller Casey to discuss whether you may be entitled to compensation. If your case of necrotizing fasciitis was caused by medical negligence, you deserve justice for the financial and emotional burdens the condition created for you and your family.
At Ross Feller Casey, we help victims of medical malpractice, including necrotizing fasciitis, get the financial recoveries they deserve. In fact, we have done so for many families just like yours, often winning large, multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements. While we cannot reverse the medical harm you have suffered, we may be able to ease the financial load that it caused.
Call the law office of Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia to schedule your free consultation. Your case, like all of our medical malpractice cases, will be handled on a contingency basis. That means there is no cost until we win your case.
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