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Necrotising Fasciitis
Can you recover from Necrotising Fasciitis?

Can you recover from Necrotising Fasciitis?

Necrotising Fasciitis is a fast-moving, life-threatening condition where urgent medical attention is the key to minimising the impact on the patient.

What is necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection that can spread rapidly throughout the body, devastating the deep, soft tissue and causing widespread decay of muscles and organs. It can be caused by a variety of bacteria that, under normal circumstances, live harmlessly outside the body, but that can enter the body through even the tiniest wound or bite and set about destroying all in their path.

Although rare, necrotising fasciitis is most likely to be acquired in hospital as the patient may already have an open wound and a weakened immune system, making them more vulnerable to the ravages of the disease.

The development of the illness

Necrotising fasciitis is a fast-moving infection, the development of which depends to some degree on the bacteria which is its cause. In some cases, the infection can be fatal within 48 hours but, even where the progress is slower, dramatic deterioration is still likely to occur over a period of 4 to 5 days.

From early signs of swelling and intense pain in the affected area, discolouration and blisters may develop over the next couple of days alongside lethargy, fever and a loss of sensation as the subcutaneous tissue dies. If left untreated, the patient is likely to develop blood-poisoning and become confused within 4 to 5 days. Once blood-poisoning has set in, the illness may become fatal.

Responding to necrotising fasciitis

The key to recovery, therefore, is prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Medical practitioners should suspect necrotising fasciitis when a patient presents with reddened swelling of the skin with pain disproportionate to the apparent problem and with possible blisters present. It may also be clear that the patient has or may have a puncture or wound to the skin.

As soon as necrotising fasciitis is suspected, it is vital that the patient is put on broad-spectrum antibiotics whilst investigations are carried out to ascertain precisely what bacteria is causing the condition. The patient can then be put on a more specific antibiotic to tackle the bacteria. Because the damage caused by necrotising fasciitis occurs deep beneath the skin, exploratory surgery may even be necessary to positively diagnose the condition.

The patient will also need emergency surgery to remove any tissue that has already been damaged by the impact of the bacteria. This is known as debridement. If this does not occur, the death of the tissue will spread to surrounding organs. Even when debridement is undertaken, it is vital that all infected tissue is removed in order to stop the spread of the disease. If this is not successful, further surgery may be necessary daily as signs of further tissue damage becomes evident.

In extreme cases, partial or full amputation of a limb may be necessary to prevent the spread of the infection.

Where surgery has occurred, it may be necessary for the patient to have subsequent plastic surgery to try to repair some of the damage caused by the devastating bacteria.

Recovery

It can be seen that it is possible to recover from necrotising fasciitis but that a patient's chances of recovery from necrotising fasciitis are almost entirely down to the knowledge, skill and speed of action of the medical practitioners involved.

Medical Negligence

If you have been affected by the devastating impact of necrotising fasciitis, and feel that this could have been avoided with more efficient medical care, contact us at Glynns Solicitors to discuss whether you may be entitled to compensation.

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