Necrotizing fasciitis (necrotising fasciitis) is a bacterial infection that is very fast to spread. Therefore timely treatment is absolutely essential, or a patient could face life-threatening complications.
What is necrotising fasciitis?
Necrotising fasciitis is an aggressive infection. Once it reaches the deep tissue and connective tissue, the bacteria immediately start to reproduce at an alarming rate. The process of reproduction causes a chemical to be released and this damages the surrounding tissue, adversely affecting the supply of blood.
Due to the poor blood supply the tissue will not receive enough oxygen, leading to tissue ischaemia and gangrene. Soon the tissue will be so damaged that it dies, or in medical terms becomes ‘necrotic’.
How fast is necrotising fasciitis?
The amount of time it takes between the bacteria entering the body and the tissue becoming necrotic is very short. Necrosis can happen within hours of the bacteria reaching the tissue.
The bacteria will continue to reproduce, infecting an ever growing area of tissue. Some medical experts suggest that the bacteria spread at a rate of three centimetres per hour. The only way to stop the spread of infection is to surgically remove the infected tissue.
How to stop necrotising fasciitis
Without treatment, necrotising fasciitis will travel to more and more tissue, creating an increasingly large area of necrosis. The only way to stop the bacteria in their tracks is to remove all of the tissue that has been infected. This is called surgical debridement.
If a large amount of tissue has been affected, more than one operation may be needed. It is very important that all of dead tissue is cut away or the patient will not be cured of necrotising fasciitis.
Timing of treatment
Because necrotising fasciitis is so fast to spread, surgical treatment must be provided as soon as possible. Indeed, necrotising fasciitis is a medical emergency, meaning immediate treatment is vital if a patient is to avoid life-changing complications.
Sadly a patient does not always reach the operating theatre in time and he/she suffers fatal complications. Normally this happens because the bacteria reach the bloodstream, resulting in septic shock and multi-organ failure.
Delay in treatment due to medical error
If treatment is delayed due to medical error, and this causes a patient to suffer harm which could otherwise have been avoided, there may be a case of medical negligence. To find out more from a legal professional, get in touch with us today.