Treating Fournier’s Gangrene
When Fournier’s Gangrene is suspected, a patient should immediately be started on a strong course of antibiotics. This should be administered intravenously and will help to kill the bacteria causing the infection.
However, the only way to actually eradicate the infection entirely is to remove the infected tissue. This means a surgical procedure must be carried out as a matter of urgency, during which the necrotic area will be surgically debrided. It is important that all the infected tissue is excised or the bacteria will remain inside the body and continue to cause problems. A number of operations may be needed to ensure all the dead tissue is debrided.
Recovering from Fournier’s Gangrene
The recovery process after Fournier’s Gangrene will depend upon how advanced the condition was when surgery was performed. Most patients will require a high level of medical care after surgery and those in a critical condition will be sent straight to the intensive care unit.
There will be a large open wound where the tissue was removed. This will need to be kept clean and the dressings changed regularly. A patient should remain on antibiotics to ensure further infections do not occur. With the right medical care a patient should slowly begin to recover, although he may be left with long-term complications.
Long-term complications of Fournier’s Gangrene
Having tissue removed from the genital region will of course be extremely traumatic and can leave an unsightly defect. Many will find this upsetting and a plastic surgeon may be asked to assess the wound, as skin grafts may help to improve aesthetic appearance and enhance healing.
If a large area of necrotic tissue is excised, a patient could be left with permanent side-effects. Sexual dysfunction is a common consequence of Fournier’s Gangrene, while some will not be able to urinate and/or defecate normally. Such patients will require long-term catheterisation and/or a colostomy bag.
Sadly there is a relatively high morbidity rate for Fournier’s Gangrene, as having a large area of tissue excised can send the body into shock. Some patients will not be able to recover from this, particularly if they are already frail. Others will only undergo treatment when the condition is already advanced, meaning the infection may have already spread to the blood. This can lead to sepsis and organ failure.
Claiming for Fournier’s Gangrene
If a patient does not recover or develops long-term complications, questions must be raised about the standard of treatment provided. If there was a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of Fournier’s Gangrene and this caused a patient harm, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.