If an abscess is not drained it may lead to necrotising fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection that must be treated immediately.
Necrotising fasciitis and abscesses
An abscess is a collection of pus located either underneath the skin (a skin abscess), or inside the body (an internal abscess).
An abscess may resolve of its own accord, but if it grows or persists, it must be drained with a needle.
If an abscess is not drained, but there is a clinical need to do so, complications could develop. Necrotising fasciitis is a well-recognised, if uncommon, complication of an abscess.
Ordinarily the abscess will not begin with necrotising fasciitis. Instead the abscess will be caused by other bacteria that have either entered the body, or have come from within the body (for example, from the gut flora).
However, at some point the abscess will become infected by other bacteria, causing the infection to progress to necrotising fasciitis.
Treating an abscess with necrotising fasciitis
Necrotising fasciitis should be treated with intravenous antibiotics and surgical debridement. Antibiotics alone will not suffice as this will not cure the infection. Instead urgent, and often repeated, debridement is required.
If an abscess infected with necrotising fasciitis is not surgically treated, the consequences could be fatal. Indeed, necrotising fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection that attacks the soft tissue, causing it to die (necrosis).
The area of dead tissue will grow very quickly, resulting in an open wound that will continue to expand if treatment is not provided. The infection may also spread to the blood, potentially leading to septic shock and organ failure.
It is therefore vital that an abscess infected with necrotising fasciitis is treated immediately.
Failure to treat an abscess/necrotising fasciitis
If medical practitioners fail to drain an abscess and a patient goes on to develop necrotising fasciitis, there may be grounds for a medical negligence claim. This is because medical professionals should recognise an abscess that requires draining. A failure to do so will amount to a substandard level of care.
Furthermore, if an abscess becomes infected with necrotising fasciitis but medical practitioners fail to diagnose/treat the infection, there may be grounds for a medical negligence claim. This is because medical professionals should recognise a patient with a serious infection and take steps to diagnose the underlying cause. Once necrotising fasciitis is confirmed, doctors should know to act immediately, proceeding straight to emergency surgery. A failure to do so will amount to a substandard level of care.
If you have suffered necrotising fasciitis complications because doctors failed to diagnose/treat your abscess, get in touch with us today to discuss claiming compensation.