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Failure to Diagnose an Abscess

Failure to Diagnose an Abscess

If medical professionals failed to diagnose and/or treat your abscess, causing you unnecessary complications, you could be entitled to claim compensation. Contact us today to find out more about pursuing a medical negligence claim.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a pus-filled lump. Normally an abscess will develop underneath the skin (a skin abscess) or inside the body (an internal abscess). The majority of abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection of a hair root or sweat gland.

A bacterial infection can lead to an abscess because when bad bacteria enter the body, the body's immune system sends white blood cells to the infected area. As the white blood cells fight the bacteria, the surrounding tissue will die, creating a hollow. This cavity then becomes filled with pus, forming a hard lump known as an abscess.

Diagnosing an abscess

A skin abscess will create a bulge on the surface of the skin. This should be easy to both see and feel, making a diagnosis relatively easy. A sample of pus may be taken from the abscess to verify the exact type of bacteria present.

An internal abscess is much harder to diagnose. If a patient is displaying the symptoms consistent with an abscess, he/she should be sent for imaging tests such as an MRI scan or CT scan. The symptoms associated with an internal abscess include:-

  • A high temperature
  • Discomfort at the site of infection
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Tiredness

Treating an abscess

The type of treatment required for an abscess will depend upon the size and type of abscess present. A small skin abscess may heal without medical intervention. Ordinarily, however, antibiotics will be required, while the abscess will also need to be drained with a needle.

Internal abscesses will need to be drained, either with a needle or by way of surgical incision (carried out under general anaesthetic).

Failure to diagnose/treat an abscess

If an abscess is not treated, there is a danger that it will grow in size. The abscess may then burst, causing the infection to spread to other parts of the body. This can be very serious, potentially creating a large area of necrotic tissue. Serious infections such as necrotising fasciitis can also develop something which can make a patient critically unwell.

If a patient does develop these complications because medical professionals fail to provide a reasonable standard of care, there could be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim. To find out more, please get in touch with us today.

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