Necrotising Fasciitis

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Necrotising Fasciitis Compensation

Necrotising Fasciitis is a rare but deadly bacterial skin infection that spreads quickly into the deep layers of skin and subcutaneous tissue.

The infection is also known as the ‘flesh-eating bug’ that spreads rapidly across the body and requires fast antibiotic administration with surgical intervention if necessary.

The infection usually occurs in an extremity following a skin trauma or surgery and presents itself on the skin in the form of a red patch. The patch progressively develops into a more extensive sore and spreads rapidly through the layers of skin.

In the UK alone there are approximately 500 new cases of necrotising fasciitis every year. If left untreated it is a potentially fatal condition with mortality rates increasing drastically the longer it is left untreated.

The symptoms of necrotising fasciitis vary depending on how advanced the bacteria has become but usually within the first 24 hours of infection patients can expect to feel intense pain with feelings of flu. Within the next few days swelling of the infected area could be expected along with diarrhoea and/or vomiting. As well as this, fluid-filled blister like blotches may appear on the skin and patients may suffer a severe drop in blood pressure. The following days of infection may lead to toxic shock and severe weakness or unconsciousness.

In light of this, it is essential that diagnosis is made as early as possible and intensive treatment commenced. If left untreated then the bacteria can become life threatening causing systemic sepsis, multi-organ failure, and even death.

How can Necrotising Fasciitis be avoided?

Necrotising fasciitis develops as a result of bacteria entering a wound in the skin. If surgery has taken place or an area of broken skin is present, no matter how small, then good wound care is essential to avoid bacterium infecting it. This can be done by regularly changing dressings and providing antibiotic cover if necessary. Extra care should be taken in those patients who suffer from a low immune system and thus are more susceptible to contracting infections.

It is very uncommon for necrotising fasciitis to spread from person to person but in some rare circumstances this can occur when the infected tissue comes in contact with the open wound of another person.

Have you or a loved one suffered the potentially fatal consequence of a delay in diagnosing and treating Necrotising Fasciitis? If so, we may be able to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialised team members today for free advice regarding whether you may have a potential medical negligence claim on 01244 354 688.

Our Clinical Negligence Team benefits from in-house medical knowledge from our Head of Department, Linda Schermer-Jones, who is dual qualified Doctor and Solicitor. We, therefore, have the ability to quickly and efficiently assess areas of potential negligence you, or a loved one, may have suffered.

Necrotising Fasciitis case study

Oliver and Co have recently successfully recovered compensation in excess £55,000 for a client after a hospital failed to diagnose and treat Necrotising Fasciitis.

  • In September 2010 our client began to experience pain in the left shoulder blade, without suffering any injury or trauma to the skin. Upon attendance, at the GP surgery, our client was diagnosed initially with a sprain and given a series of steroid injections by way of treatment. Following the third steroid injection, our client noticed that the area was tender to touch but there were no visible signs of swelling or redness. An x-ray was arranged which showed no abnormalities.
  • In October 2010 our client noticed that a small lump, comparable to that of an insect bite, had appeared on the tender area. Over the following days, the lump grew in size and so our client attended the A&E department of the defendant hospital. Our client was diagnosed with an abscess and given the advice that the head had not yet formed so they couldn’t proceed to drain the abscess at that time. Our client was discharged home with antibiotics and painkillers.
  • The lump did not improve over the following week and so our client re-attended the A&E department of the defendant hospital. Our client was prescribed with further antibiotics and discharged home.
  • In the weeks that followed our client began to feel generally unwell with a high temperature, shivers, and sweats. They were in tremendous pain in the area of the left shoulder blade and their left flank was swollen. Our client thereafter re-attended the hospital again and was admitted to be given intravenous antibiotics. The hospital queried abscess formation with superficial cellulitis.
  • Our client thereafter underwent scans which showed marked asymmetry between the right and left posterior chest with thickening of subcutaneous tissue and a diagnosis of cellulitis was made. Our client’s temperature continued to rise and they had increasing pain in the left side of their back.
  • An MRI scan was undertaken, the results of which were consistent with extensive inflammatory change, cellulitis with associated focal fluid collections and abscesses. Unfortunately, the MRI scan results were not considered by the treating clinicians until the following evening when a diagnosis of possible necrotising fasciitis was made.
  • Our client was not informed of the possible diagnosis or the seriousness of the same. Our client’s condition continued to deteriorate over the following days and they experienced increased pain in the left shoulder and flank. Our client was thereafter informed that they required emergency surgery and the urgency and seriousness of his condition was impressed upon them.
  • Our client underwent surgery by way of exploration and debridement of necrotising fasciitis. The wound measured 10 x 8 inches. Our client thereafter underwent two further operations for debridement of the necrotic tissue and wound packing. Our client experienced pain for some time after the surgery and the extensive wounds took a long time to heal.
  • In December 2010 Oliver and Co were instructed to represent our client in a claim for medical negligence. After significant initial investigations which included assessment of our client’s full medical records, we proceeded to bring an action forward against the defendant hospital. It was alleged that as a result of the defendant’s failure, the necrotising fasciitis spread, causing avoidable pain, suffering and loss of amenity, the need for more extensive surgery, more extensive scarring, further procedures and a psychiatric injury.
  • Both liability and causation were denied in full by the defendant’s solicitors. It was denied that there was a failure to diagnose and treat necrotising fasciitis, as they were of the opinion that there were no clinical signs or symptoms of the same. It was also denied that earlier surgery would have made a difference in terms of the amount of surgery that our client needed and their outcome thereafter.
  • Oliver and Co remained firm in our views that the defendant breached their duty of care to our client and we proceeded to obtain supportive expert evidence from a consultant surgeon, psychiatrist, and microbiologist.
  • Despite this, the defendant solicitor’s continued to dispute the claim and they put forward a derisory offer of settlement. We remained firm in our views and therefore proceeded towards formal court proceedings. Following significant negotiations, we were delighted to agree on a figure of £55,000 in full and final settlement of our client’s claim.
  • This settlement figure included a claim for general damages, past financial losses and future loss of earnings.

For free advice from our Medical Negligence solicitors, please call us direct on 01244 354688

Linda Schermer-Jones

Head of the Clinical Negligence Department, Associate Director & Medical Negligence Solicitor

Kerry Goulden

Associate Director & Medical Negligence Solicitor

Liz Fry

Associate Director & Medical Negligence Solicitor

Emma Woodrow

Clinical Negligence Legal Adviser