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Recognising Necrotising Fasciitis – The ‘Flesh-Eating’ Bug

Early diagnosis of necrotising fasciitis, or the so-called ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria, can make a life-changing difference. It is therefore imperative that you are aware of the signs.

Necrotising fasciitis is a serious bacterial skin infection that eats away at underlying body tissues, muscle and skin.

It is often referred to as a “flesh-eating bug”, but the bacteria don’t “eat” flesh, they release toxins that cause severe damage to nearby tissue.

Necrotising fasciitis is not contagious. It can develop from a small cut or minor injury, and can very quickly spread.

Necrotising fasciitis can be life-threatening if it is not diagnosed and treated early on. The NHS estimates that, even when treated, one or two in every five cases are fatal. Because severe cases can result in long-term disability due to amputation or the removal of extensive infected tissue, ongoing rehabilitation and support may be required to help people who survive the infection.

If you think that you may have contracted necrotising fasciitis you should get to A&E immediately.

We unfortunately see many cases where people have been admitted into hospital for routine operations and, because of medical negligence during their treatment or aftercare, a surgical wound has become infected, causing necrotising fasciitis. In cases like these, people can leave the hospital in a considerably worse condition than they were originally admitted. The effects can be life-changing and mean further treatment and surgery. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.

I am currently representing a client who contracted the potentially fatal infection following an operation at Southend Hospital. Andrew Lane, 61, is bringing a medical negligence claim on the grounds that his bowel was punctured during the operation. It was not detected for days and resulted in the infection, which ultimately resulted in so much damaged tissue being removed that his genitals were damaged and he was left with a protruding stomach.

For more information on Mr Lane’s case, please see: Flesh-Eating Superbug Leaves Cancer Patient Fighting For His Life

Symptoms of necrotising fasciitis include pain that is disproportionate to skin damage, as well as a high temperature and flu-like symptoms. Once the infection develops, symptoms may include swelling and redness, diarrhoea and vomiting, dark blotches that turn into fluid-filled blisters, dizziness, weakness and confusion.

As necrotising fasciitis is caused by bacteria entering the body via broken skin, it is important to treat wounds quickly and carefully – regardless of size. If you have an open wound, a blister, a needle puncture or any break in the skin you should keep them covered with clean, dry bandages until healed.

If you think that you may have contracted necrotising fasciitis you should get to A&E immediately.

Nick Greaves is a clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

The clinical negligence solicitors at Slater and Gordon have many years’ experience in dealing with misdiagnosed and untreated cases of necrotising fasciitis. If you’ve been affected, and need legal advice, please contact one of our medical negligence specialists.

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

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