New York residents might have heard the unpleasant phrase ‘flesh-eating bacteria" in news reports. The proper name of this frightening condition is necrotizing fasciitis. The nickname comes from the fact that it destroys skin and muscle tissues, and the infection can be fatal if not treated. What’s even more frightening is that sometimes its symptoms are mistaken for something much more common: the flu.
One woman with the flesh-eating infection was originally misdiagnosed with the flu after going to her doctor with pain and flu-like symptoms on Jan. 11. Two days later she was on her way to the hospital to have surgery to remove destroyed tissue. It took seven procedures to stop the infection. According to a GoFundMe page that was set up on her behalf, she will need skin grafts and reconstructive surgery to recover.
Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by several types of bacteria including group A strep. The infection is usually caused by bacteria that enter the body through broken skin. When diagnosed early, the infection can be treated with antibiotics, but surgery is sometimes needed to remove dead tissue and keep the infection from spreading. Someone who has necrotizing fasciitis might feel pain, but many symptoms of the infection are similar to flu symptoms and include chills, fever, vomiting and fatigue. Redness or swelling of the skin might also occur.
A mistaken or delayed diagnosis can result in a worsened medical condition as the actual disease spreads. Patients who have been harmed in such a manner might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney and see what recourse might be available.