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Diagnosing Necrotising Fasciitis

Diagnosing Necrotising Fasciitis

As an aggressive flesh-eating disease, Necrotising Fasciitis must be diagnosed as quickly as possible. If there is a delay, the infection will rapidly spread, causing extensive injury to the patient. If this delay is the fault of medical professionals for example, a misdiagnosis was made then there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

How to Diagnose Necrotising Fasciitis

Necrotising Fasciitis often occurs after someone has suffered some form of trauma to the skin. This may be as minor as a cut finger, or as major as a surgical wound. This opening in the skin allows bacteria to enter the body and multiply. As they reproduce, the Necrotising Fasciitis bacteria release dangerous toxins that attack the tissue and underlying fascia. However, it is possible for Necrotising Fasciitis to develop, even if there is no apparent history of trauma.

No matter how the bacteria penetrate the body, the initial symptom will usually be an intense pain at the site of infection. If there has been an incidence of trauma, the pain will often be disproportionate to the size of the injury. Other symptoms will also develop, including:-

  • Red, swollen and hot skin at the site of infection;
  • Blistering at the site of infection;
  • Fever;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhoea.

If someone presents to their GP or A&E department with the above symptoms, medical professionals should immediately suspect some sort of bacterial infection. Further tests should then be carried out to determine the exact nature of infection. This should include routine blood tests and swab cultures of the wound, while an MRI scan or CT scan may also prove useful.

Once a diagnosis of Necrotising Fasciitis has been made, treatment must be provided as soon as possible. The course of treatment will depend upon the severity of the infection, but will often involve intravenous antibiotics. The affected area of necrotic (dead) tissue must also be removed a medical procedure known as debridement.

The Complications of a Delay in Necrotising Fasciitis Diagnosis

Necrotising Fasciitis is an extremely aggressive infection and will spread rapidly if left untreated. Within a very short space of time, the condition can cause widespread tissue damage, leaving a patient with serious complications. The type of medical problems caused by Necrotising Fasciitis will depend upon the site of infection. Typically, however, a patient with severe necrosis will need extensive debridement. This will leave a significant injury, and may even lead to amputation.

Other complications associated with a delay in diagnosing necrotising fasciitis include:-

  • Psychological injury;
  • Sepsis;
  • Neurological damage;
  • Death.

Delay in Diagnosis: Does this Amount to Medical Negligence?

If long-term complications due arise as a result of a delay in diagnosis, it is important to consider who is at fault. If medical professionals are to blame, then legal action may ensue. A medical negligence will be able to provide more information as to whether or not the care you received fell below an acceptable standard. However, you may have grounds for a claim if healthcare staff:-

  • Failed to diagnose Necrotising Fasciitis in a timely fashion;
  • Failed to arrange diagnostic tests;
  • Failed to investigate a patient whose symptoms are deteriorating;
  • Failed to provide the correct treatment.

If you believe you suffered as a delay in diagnosis, contact a solicitor today to discuss the possibility of claiming compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.

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