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Treating Necrotising Fasciitis

As a rapidly progressive infection, necrotising fasciitis must be treated as soon as possible. If there is a delay, the bacteria will multiply and spread, quickly causing extensive tissue damage. Understandably this will lead to significant pain and distress for the patient, who will be left to endure both physical and psychological injury. If this delay can be attributed to medical error, then you may be able to claim compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced.

How to treat Necrotising Fasciitis

Necrotising Fasciitis is characterised by certain symptoms which should warn medical staff to the presence of infection. These symptoms include pain that is disproportionate to the injury (if there is an injury), discoloured skin that is hot to touch, fever and vomiting.

A patient who presents with these complaints should immediately undergo further testing to verify whether or not necrotising fasciitis is present. This should involve a physical examination and, more importantly, a swab of the infected area to send for testing. In the meantime, a patient should be started on intravenous antibiotics, as this will help reduce the number of bacteria in the body.

If the laboratory tests confirm necrotising fasciitis, the infected area must be removed a surgical procedure known as debridement. This will excise all the tissue that has already become necrotic, thereby preventing the infection from spreading any further. Occasionally it will be necessary for more than one operation to be performed.

What happens if Necrotising Fasciitis treatment is delayed?

If treatment is delayed, the bacteria will quickly reproduce, releasing a toxic substance as they do so. This destroys the tissue and underlying fascia, causing it to die (ie. become necrotic). Therefore the longer the bacteria are allowed to multiply, the greater the damage will be.

Because necrotising fasciitis is a rapidly progressive infection, the amount of time it takes for extensive tissue damage to occur is very little. In some cases, widespread injury can happen within hours of the onset of symptoms. This will mean a patient requires a large amount of tissue debridement, resulting in serious physical (and possibly psychological) complications. For example, a patient may be left with an unsightly deformity, an amputated limb or may even suffer multi-organ failure.

Does a delay in Necrotising Fasciitis treatment amount to medical negligence?

Medical professionals acknowledge that necrotising fasciitis must be treated as quickly as possible if a patient is to make a full recovery. So if your treatment was delayed, you will understandably want to know why there was a hold-up, and whether or not this has made a difference to your condition.

If it is found that a delay in treatment can be directly attributed to medical error, then this will amount to negligence. For example, doctors may have failed to make a timely diagnosis, failed to carry out or accurately interpret the necessary tests, or failed to appreciate the importance of immediate treatment.

If you believe your necrotising fasciitis treatment was delayed, you should speak to a solicitor about the care you received, as you may be the victim of a substandard level of medical care. If so, you will be able to claim compensation for the injuries you have sustained.

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