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Necrotising Fasciitis
The Devastating Impact of Necrotising Fasciitis

The Devastating Impact of Necrotising Fasciitis

Suffering from necrotising fasciitis can be a hideous experience. The symptoms are unpleasant, the treatment is both invasive and destructive, the possible knock-on effects are shocking and recovery is protracted. Even with treatment, the mortality rate is high.

Symptoms

The early symptoms of necrotising fasciitis are indicative of an unpleasant infection. Pain in the area of the infection is likely to be intense, along with redness and swelling. A fast heartbeat and a high temperature or chills accompanied by lowering blood pressure and rapid breathing all signal a severe infection, possibly necrotising fasciitis. The patient may also start to experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Diagnosis

Although necrotising fasciitis is a rare condition, this combination of symptoms and signs should alert a medical practitioner to the presence of a severe infection, requiring urgent investigation and treatment. A prompt and accurate diagnosis at this stage may minimise the degree of treatment required and the long-term devastation of the illness.

If the patient already has some form of wound to the body, whether due to an accident, surgery or abscess, the possibility of them having necrotising fasciitis is increased and should alert medical practitioners to check for this possibility.

Treatment

Once necrotising fasciitis has become established in the patient, the only method to absolutely stop the spread of infection and tissue destruction is the surgical removal of all the tissue that has already been affected, however extensive. This is likely to require several surgical procedures and can result in the removal of significant areas of skin and underlying tissue in the affected area - often the abdomen, the limbs or buttocks although other areas can be affected.

In some circumstances it may even be necessary to remove an entire limb in order to try to contain the infection.

Further possible effects of necrotising fasciitis

Patients with necrotising fasciitis are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to the development of additional problems.

As the illness develops, it may result in sepsis as the body's immune systems tries desperately to combat the infection and the blood stream becomes poisoned. The organ system of the body will come under strain, possibly leading to multiple organ failure.

Where the bowel has been affected, peritonitis may result as the contents of the bowel spread into the abdominal cavity. In addition, the patient may well be left requiring a colostomy operation as part of the repair of the bowel, leaving them with a stoma for either the short or long-term.

The patient will probably need wide-ranging life support in an intensive care unit in order to maintain life whilst the treatment attempts to stop the spread of the infection. The patient is unlikely to be able to feed themselves and may also require support to be able to breathe. The patient may need to remain in the intensive care unit for weeks rather than days.

Recovery in hospital

For a patient who has suffered with a necrotising fasciitis infection, a considerable proportion of the hospital stay may be about supporting their recovery. The patient may have extensive wounds - both due to the spread of the infection as well as the extent of the surgical treatment - which will need to heal and may well require the assistance of vacuum-assisted closure to help pull the damaged flesh together.

Even after leaving intensive care, the patient is likely to need an extended stay in hospital until they can be discharged.

The patient may also require further, plastic surgery, to try to reconstruct the wounded area.

A patient who has had necrotising fasciitis has been extremely unwell. They have suffered a severe, life-threatening infection. They are likely to have undergone several aggressive surgical procedures and may have come close to complete organ failure. They are likely to be in some considerable pain throughout this illness and in need of significant pain relief during both treatment and recovery.

Returning home

A patient returning home after experiencing necrotising fasciitis is, at the least, likely to need some time to recover their physical and psychological health.

In cases, where debridement has been extensive, it may be that the patient will need physiotherapy or they may require a significant change in life-style such as assistance with walking. They may have to make changes to their home in order to be able to function independently and they may need a specially-adapted car, if they are able to drive at all.

Medical Negligence

Necrotising fasciitis is always an unpleasant illness but, if the severity of the condition and the associated treatment is exacerbated by an unnecessary delay in diagnosis and/or treatment, the patient may well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. This may help to make it easier to deal with the long-term devastating impact of this dreadful illness.

Speak to a solicitor

Glynns Solicitors is a specialist medical negligence practice. We have considerable experience of supporting necrotising fasciitis claims and would be happy to discuss your experience with you with a view to assessing whether a compensation claim would be appropriate.

Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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