Necrotizing fasciitis (NECK-re-tie-zing FASH-e-i-tis) is a fatal bacterial infection that spreads quickly. The term “necrotizing” refers to something that causes the death of another. The term “fasciitis” refers to inflammation of the fascia, which is the subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue that surrounds muscles and nerves and holds everything in place, including fat and blood vessels. Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as “Flesh-Eating Disease,” causes gangrenous changes, tissue death, and systemic disease, and frequently results in the patient’s death. Every year, between 600 and 700 cases are diagnosed in the United States. About 25% to 30% of those cases result in death. Necrotizing fasciitis kills about one in every three people.
If necrotizing fasciitis is detected and treated early, the chances of survival without more severe consequences are significantly higher than if the necrotizing fasciitis is not detected and treated until it has progressed to a more advanced stage. Any unnecessary delay in diagnosing or treating necrotizing fasciitis can have tragic consequences. Unfortunately, warning signs are often ignored, and treatment is delayed. The most common forms of negligence or medical malpractice by physicians in diagnosing and/or treating patients with necrotizing fasciitis include failing to test for necrotizing fasciitis when a patient reports warning signs or symptoms that can be caused by necrotizing fasciitis, delaying necrotizing fasciitis diagnosis, failing to order appropriate treatment for a patient with necrotizing fasciitis, and failing to follow up with the patient. A doctor may violate his or her professional duty of care by performing an incorrect differential diagnosis. A healthcare provider creates a list of potential diagnoses and then tests each one to rule out all but the correct diagnosis. Doctors can also violate the professional standard of care by misreading test results, failing to treat necrotizing fasciitis with antibiotics quickly, or administering an incorrect antibiotic or dose. If you or someone you care about has suffered from serious complications of necrotizing fasciitis as a result of a physician’s or another health care provider’s negligence, you should contact an attorney right away to see if you can file a medical malpractice or, in some cases, wrongful death lawsuit. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano for a free case evaluation. We serve clients throughout Upstate New York, with offices in several convenient locations. Our extensive experience in the field of medical malpractice is reflected in the results we have obtained for our clients.
A common misconception about necrotizing fasciitis is that the condition is caused by only ONE type of bacteria. Several types of bacteria can cause the condition, the most common of which is Group A Streptococcus, the same bacteria that causes strep throat. While Group A strep bacteria are the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis, it can also be caused by bacteria found in water. Other bacteria that cause necrotizing fasciitis include Escherichia coli (“E Coli”), Clostridium, Aeromonas hydrophila, Pseudomonas, Prevotella, Klebsiella, Vibrio vulnificus, and Staphylococcus aureus. This type of deep tissue infection can overwhelm the immune system, resulting in sepsis and/or sepsis shock. Sepsis is a complication caused by an infection. When we have sepsis, our bodies release chemicals into our bloodstream to fight infection. However, the sudden injection of chemicals can cause inflammation, which can lead to other dangerous conditions and symptoms such as multiple organ failure, fever, difficulty breathing, mental confusion, low blood pressure, and even death.