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Necrotizing fasciitis is a severe soft tissue bacterial infection. Though the condition is rare, it is aggressive and can destroy the skin, muscle, and connective tissue known as “fascia,” which surrounds the muscle. “Necrotizing” refers to a condition that causes the death of tissues. “Fasciitis” refers to inflammation of the fascia surrounding the muscle and blood and nerve supply to the muscle.

What Causes Flesh-Eating Infections?

Necrotizing fasciitis isn’t caused by one specific type of bacteria. Rather, several different types can cause the condition. Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the same bacteria that causes strep throat infections, is the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis. However, it can also be caused by other bacteria, including Escherichia coli (“E Coli”), Aeromonas hydrophila, Clostridium, Klebsiella, Prevotella, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus aureus, and Vibrio vulnificus.

If these types of bacteria infect the layer of connective tissue beneath the skin — the soft tissue and superficial fascia — necrotizing fasciitis can develop. Bacteria can enter the body through:

  • Abrasions
  • Insect bites
  • Minor cuts
  • Burns
  • Puncture wounds
  • Other injuries that break the skin
  • Surgical wounds

Sometimes, how the infection began is unknown. Unfortunately, once it starts, it spreads quickly, destroying skin, muscle, and tissue as it does so.

Certain risk factors may make it more likely that a person will get necrotizing fasciitis, including the following health conditions:

  • IV or injectable drug use
  • Steroid use
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Chickenpox in childhood
  • Heart disease that affects heart valves
  • Cirrhosis
  • Lung disease
  • Immunosuppression

What Are The Symptoms Of Necrotizing Fasciitis?

The symptoms associated with necrotizing fasciitis include:

  • Ill feeling
  • Fever and chills
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Shock

There is also a small, painful, red bump or lump on the skin that spreads. It then develops into an extremely painful bruise-like spot that expands very rapidly, sometimes in less than an hour. The center of the spot becomes dusky and dark, and then, as the tissue dies, it turns black. The skin may break and ooze fluid.

How Is Necrotizing Fasciitis Diagnosed And Treated?

Doctors diagnose necrotizing fasciitis by examining the affected area and ordering one or more diagnostic tests. They may biopsy the infected tissue, perform blood tests looking for signs of infection, and/or order CT or MRI scans of the affected area.

Treatment for this flesh-eating condition starts with administering broad-spectrum antibiotics intravenously. However, due to tissue decay, antibiotics may not reach all of the infected areas. As a result, doctors must remove, or “debride,” dead tissue immediately, which may require amputation of affected limbs to prevent further spreading.

Do You Have a Necrotizing Fasciitis Case?

A medical malpractice claim requires that your attorney can prove that a doctor or other medical professional breached the accepted standard of care and that you were injured or suffered harm as a result. There are numerous ways a doctor can breach the standard of care in a necrotizing fasciitis case. For example, they may misdiagnose the infection as another less serious medical condition, misread test results, delay treatment of the condition, or prescribe the wrong medication or dose for treatment.

If your lawyer can establish liability, you can recover financial compensation for your damages. The amount and nature of damages depend on the extent of your injuries. For example, some victims of necrotizing fasciitis malpractice have to have life-saving surgery and remain in intensive care before transitioning to a long, expensive course of rehabilitation. You may be entitled to recover lost wages, medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment arising from necrotizing fasciitis.

How Can A Pennsylvania Necrotizing Fasciitis Lawyer Help?

Suppose you or your loved one has suffered from necrotizing fasciitis and you believe it was caused by medical malpractice. In that case, finding an experienced necrotizing fasciitis lawyer as soon as possible is essential. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases, so do not delay.

An attorney experienced in necrotizing fasciitis cases, like ours at Ross Feller Casey, will review your case, thoroughly investigate your situation, examine medical records, review expenses, and conduct in-depth interviews with people involved in your case.

Ross Feller Casey has a successful track record of winning cases like yours with large, multimillion-dollar verdicts and financial recoveries.

Do you believe you have a valid case for a necrotizing fasciitis lawsuit? If so, please get in touch with our office in Philadelphia today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our cases are handled on a contingency basis, so there is never a charge until we win your case.

About the Author

Dr. Mark A. Hoffman is an internationally recognized physician and leading plaintiff’s lawyer who joined Ross Feller Casey in 2014.

Mark Hoffman

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.