Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) January 24, 2011 – Necrotizing fasciitis has been confused with cellulitis; with deadly consequences. Under circumstances like that, there may be a case for medical negligence.Even though medical science has made enormous technological advances in the last decade or two, there are some things that still remain the same. One of those is that if a patient has necrotizing fasciitis, it needs surgery, no question about it. It is a fast moving, potentially deadly disease that can accomplish its grim work in a very short period of time.
“There are classic symptoms that are specifically unique to necrotizing fasciitis. Unfortunately, in the early stages of it developing, the signs may also be mistaken for cellulitis. That is a deadly mistake. The way to differentiate between the two diseases is through tests. This is vitally important if the patient has a compromised immune system. In other words, test first, ask questions later and do it fast if there is even the slightest hint of the possibility of necrotizing fasciitis,” said Michael Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer.
Consider the case of a 51-year old woman, admitted to hospital with an abdominal tumor and suspected brain tumor. Surgery was performed to remove the tumor in the abdomen and the patient returned to her room. Two days later, she complained of pain in the vaginal area and around the stitches in her abdomen. The staff informed the doctor about the pain and on the physician’s initial examination, the diagnosis was cellulitis. The woman was given antibiotics.
At the end of the first day of antibiotics, the pain had increased for the woman to the point she required morphine. The vaginal area and the abdomen were grossly swollen and abscesses were visible in both locations. The doctor realized his mistake, diagnosed necrotizing fasciitis and ordered debridement of the tissue. The debridement didn’t get all the tissue and the infection spread like wildfire to her leg. Her leg was amputated to save her life.
“The patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit indicating the doctor had not taken the time and care to order tests in the first instance of the presence of an infection; something that would have been the accepted medical standard. The case was eventually settled in favor of the patient. There was a valuable lesson to be learned there: that even though it is possible for a person in the early stages of necrotizing fasciitis to show signs that may mimic cellulitis, it is crucial to run diagnostic tests and find out what you’re dealing with,” said Smith. It is a difference that may save a life.
“If you have been in this kind of situation or know someone who has been, please, do not hesitate to call my office for legal counsel and to find out what your rights are. The first consultation is free. You may ask any questions you like and we can proceed from there, should you wish to retain my services,” Smith said.
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