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Necrotising Fasciitis
Reducing the Risk of Necrotising Fasciitis

Reducing the Risk of Necrotising Fasciitis

Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection that destroys the soft tissues. Anyone of any age can get the infection, even people who are in excellent health. So is there anything you can do to avoid getting necrotising fasciitis?

How does necrotising fasciitis happen?

To answer this question, it is necessary to understand how necrotising fasciitis works. Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection. The bacteria travel to the deep tissues, either from another infection within the body, or through a wound in the skin.

Bacteria getting through a wound in the skin is more often the cause. What happens is that the individual has some sort of laceration to the skin, perhaps a small cut, bite or something more obvious like a surgical incision.

Bacteria live all around us, on our skin and on the surfaces we touch. At some point we may come into contact with the bacteria that cause necrotising fasciitis. In fact there are various different types of bacteria that can lead to necrotising fasciitis and they are quite common. If we come into contact with them and we have a break in the skin, the bacteria can infiltrate the body and travel to the deep tissues.

Alternatively necrotising fasciitis can occur due to another infection inside the body. One example is an abscess. If there is a large internal abscess that is not drained, the bacteria can begin to seep out and the infection will spread to the surrounding tissues. This can develop in necrotising fasciitis.

How do you reduce the risk of necrotising fasciitis?

Therefore the key to reducing the risk of necrotising fasciitis is good wound care. If you cut yourself, no matter how small, always wash the injury out and put a sterile dressing on it. This treatment should be done as quickly as possible. Everything that you use needs to be clean, as maintaining the utmost hygiene is essential in preventing infection.

Even if you have not cut yourself, maintaining good standards of cleanliness can help to avoid an infection such as necrotising fasciitis. Regularly washing your hands with warm soapy water is particularly important as we carry a lots of germs on our hands.

Or if you have an internal infection such as an abscess, make sure you go to the doctor for treatment. Very small abscesses may be left to heal on their own. But larger abscesses must be drained, as must abscesses that develop in people with obesity/diabetes because they are more at risk of develop a necrotising fasciitis infection.

If your abscess is left untreated but you feel your condition is deteriorating, do not be afraid to return to the doctor for further medical attention. Early treatment can significantly reduce the risk of necrotising fasciitis.

Can necrotising fasciitis be prevented?

It may not be possible to prevent a necrotising fasciitis infection, even with these precautions. The infection is very aggressive and it can overpower the immune system, especially those with who are old, frail or have underlying health conditions. However, the measures mentioned above can help to reduce the risk.

Is there a vaccine for necrotising fasciitis?

No, there is not a vaccine that protects people against necrotising fasciitis.

Is there a cure for necrotising fasciitis?

There is no cure for necrotising fasciitis, as such. It can be treated successfully, although there is a high mortality rate even with treatment.

The treatment that is required is debridement surgery, which surgically removes all of the infected tissues, and broad-spectrum antibiotics administered intravenously. Other supportive treatment will also be needed as it is likely that the patient will be seriously unwell with loss of fluid, low blood pressure and organ dysfunction.

Are some people more at risk of necrotising fasciitis than others?

Some people are more at risk of getting necrotising fasciitis than others. Those who are more at risk include those who are old or have a weakened immune system. More specifically, the following groups are at risk:

  • The elderly
  • Diabetics
  • Overweight or obese people
  • Intravenous drug users
  • Illnesses that compromise the immune system e.g. HIV, blood cancers
  • Treatment that compromises the immune system e.g. chemotherapy
  • People suffering from chicken pox

Nevertheless, anyone can get necrotising fasciitis. Sometimes people who are young and healthy will develop the infection out-of-the-blue, and will not even recall having any sort of trauma to the skin. Some patients will not know how they developed the infection and it will remain something of a mystery.

Having said that, it is important to remember that necrotising fasciitis is very rare. Even those who are more at risk of getting necrotising fasciitis have a very slim chance of developing the condition.

Summary

Therefore anyone can get necrotising fasciitis, although some people are more likely to get the infection, especially those with a poor immune system.

There are things that you can do to reduce the risk, such as keeping wounds clean and dry, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and maintaining good standards of hygiene.

However, these measures can only reduce the risk; they cannot eliminate the risk altogether.

If necrotising fasciitis does develop, early treatment with debridement surgery and intravenous antibiotics is needed. Even with treatment, the infection can be fatal.

Necrotising fasciitis medical negligence

If you would like any further information about necrotising fasciitis in relation to medical negligence claims, please get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors. We are a niche medical negligence law firm acting for victims of substandard medical care across England and Wales.

If you or a loved one has developed necrotising fasciitis and you believe the care provided was negligent, there could be grounds for a legal claim. We have extensive experience in necrotising fasciitis and will be able to tell you whether there is a case to be answered.

Necrotising fasciitis claims often revolve around a delay in diagnosis, as this will delay life-saving treatment. Even if the patient does survive, there can be serious disability due to the amount of tissue that has had to be removed.

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