Flesh-Eating Bacteria – Failure to Timely Diagnose Necrotizing Fasciitis

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Failure to diagnose a condition is one of the most common types of medical misdiagnosis errors. Some conditions may go undiagnosed, although the failure to diagnose them may not result in rapid or serious injuries or death. In contrast, sometimes a relatively easy to treat condition may worsen rapidly and create a life-threatening situation if it is not properly and promptly diagnosed. If you were injured because a physician negligently failed to timely diagnose your injury or illness, a Tallahassee personal injury attorney can help you recover appropriate damages for your losses.

Necrotizing Fasciitis (or the Flesh-Eating Infection or Disease)

One disease that doctors need to diagnose early is flesh-eating bacteria disease, which is also called necrotizing fasciitis. Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly throughout the body and destroys the body’s skin, fat, and other soft tissues.

Early diagnosis of this flesh-eating disease is important because misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose usually results in amputation or death. In fact, every year, 2,000 to 3,000 people are killed by NF.

For example, in 2006, University of Tulsa football player Devin Adair died from NF. His NF went undiagnosed, even after a week in the hospital. Upon autopsy examination, necrotizing fasciitis was determined to be the cause of death.

More recently, a jury awarded $25 million in a Wisconsin malpractice case where a 53-year-old woman had all four limbs amputated after physicians failed to diagnose her Strep A infection, which ultimately lead to septic shock and NF infection.

Causes Of Necrotizing Fasciitis

Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by more than one type of bacteria. However, the most common bacterial cause is group A Streptococcus (or group A Strep) for short.

Most people are familiar with group A Strep because it is the same bacteria that causes the common strep throat infection.

In order to get NF, the bacteria must be introduced into a person’s body in some way, usually through a wound or break in the skin of some kind. This can include acne, animal bites, boils, bruises, chicken pox, childbirth, dental surgery, eczema, frostbite, fungal infection, gunshot wounds, hemorrhoids, insect bites, minor cuts or scratches, needle pricks, perforated bowel, scrapes, piercings, post-surgical wounds, rug burn, skin ulcers, strep throat, sprains, tattoos, and vehicular trauma.

However, according to one expert, some 45 percent of patients do not recall having any injury or open wound.

Diagnosis Of Necrotizing Fasciitis

Symptoms of NF can be confusing because they may seem like another injury or illness. They may include:

– pain or soreness, similar to a “pulled muscle”;

– warm skin with red or purplish swelling that spreads rapidly;

– ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin;

– severe pain out of proportion to how painful the affected area looks; or

– fever, chills, tiredness, or vomiting.

Prompt Diagnosis Is Critical

PNF spreads at a rate of approximately 1 cm per hour, depending on the where the bacteria enters the body, the exact type of bacteria involved, and other factors unique to the individual who contracts the disease.

Prompt diagnosis of NF is critical because of the rapid rate at which the disease spreads. This is because as the disease spreads, it kills the soft tissues of the body, resulting in the need for skin removal and often amputation. If the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, it can also be fatal.

Tallahassee Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Any serious, progressive medical condition needs to be diagnosed and treated promptly in order for the patient to have the best chance at a full recovery. When a physician fails to recognize the signs and symptoms of an illness, disease, or other medical condition, the results can be tragic.

At Fasig & Brooks we have 30 years of representing clients in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. We take pride in the one-on-one attention and quality service we provide our clients. If you believe you or someone close to you may have been the victim of medical malpractice in the Tallahassee or Southern Georgia area, learn more about your rights and options in a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. Call our Tallahassee office at (850) 222-3232 or contact us online.