Necrotizing fasciitis is a progressive, rapidly spreading, inflammatory infection located in the deep fascia. These infections can be difficult to recognize in their early stages if the treating physician is not exercising proper diligence in evaluating the patient’s symptoms. Once the disease begins to progress, necrotizing fasciitis requires aggressive surgical treatment, often leading to amputation and sometimes death. Like all medical negligence cases, those involving necrotizing fasciitis are highly complex in nature and replete with opportunities for negligent parties to avoid taking responsibility. We diligently discover the important facts, retain world-class expert witnesses and methodically prepare necrotizing fasciitis cases for trial in a way that maximizes the opportunity for a verdict that provides justice for our client.
More about necrotizing fasciitis…
Necrotizing soft tissue infection is a rare but very severe type of bacterial infection that can destroy the muscles, skin and underlying tissue. Many different types of bacteria can cause this type of infection, including streptococcus pyogenes, a severe and usually deadly form of necrotizing soft tissue infection sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria.”
Cases in which the precipitating event is known are classified as secondary necrotizing fasciitis. Bacterial invasion may result from blunt trauma with contusion, abrasions, penetrating injury (e.g., laceration, intravenous, drug abuse and surgical procedures), childbirth or burns, i.e., anything that causes a break in the skin. Idiopathic necrotizing fasciitis, however, occurs in the absence of a known or identifiable etiologic factor, which may make the diagnosis more challenging. The most recent necrotizing fasciitis case handled by Davis Adams, which was resolved favorably for our client, involved idiopathic necrotizing fasciitis.
When necrotizing fasciitis sets in, the bacteria begins to grow and release harmful substances (toxins) that:
- directly kill tissue;
- interfere with the blood flow to the tissue; and
- break down materials in the tissue, which rapidly spreads the bacteria, leading to widespread effects such as shock.
Necrotizing Fasciitis Symptoms
Early symptoms (usually within 24 hours):
- usually a minor trauma or other skin opening has occurred (the wound does not necessarily appear infected);
- some pain in the general area of the injury is present, but not necessarily at the site of the injury but in the same region or limb of the body;
- the pain is usually disproportionate to the injury and may start as something akin to a muscle pull, but becomes more and more painful;
- flu like symptoms begin to occur, such as diarrhea, nausea, fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness and general malaise; and
The biggest symptom is all of these symptoms combined. In general, you will probably feel worse than you have ever felt and not understand why.
Advanced symptoms (usually within 3–4 days):
- the limb, or area of body experiencing pain begins to swell, and may show a purplish rash;
- the limb may begin to have large, dark marks, that will become blisters filled with blackish fluid; and
- the wound may actually begin to appear necrotic with a bluish, white or dark, mottled, flaky appearance.
Critical symptoms (usually within 4–5 days):
- blood pressure will drop severely;
- the body begins to go into septic shock from the toxins the bacteria are giving off; and
- unconsciousness will occur as the body becomes too weak to fight off this infection.
How the skin and tissue look can help the doctor diagnose a necrotizing soft tissue infection. Often a patient will be diagnosed in the operating room by a surgeon. Imaging tests, such as CT scans, are sometimes helpful, as are tests performed on blood, fluids or tissue from the infected area.
Powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics must be given immediately through a vein (IV). Surgery is required to open and drain infected areas and remove dead tissue. Sometimes donor immunoglobulins (antibodies) are given by vein to help fight the infection. Skin grafts may be needed after the infection goes away. If an arm or leg infection cannot be controlled, amputation of the limb may be considered.
If the bacteria is determined to be an oxygen-avoiding organism (anaerobe), the patient may receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This involves placing the patient in a chamber that delivers 100% oxygen at high pressure.
A patient’s prognosis following a necrotizing fasciitis diagnosis depends on a number of factors, including:
- how fast the diagnosis was obtained;
- the type of bacteria causing the infection;
- how quickly the infection spreads; and
- how well the antibiotics work.
Scarring and deformity are common with this type of disease. The death rate is high, even with aggressive treatment and powerful antibiotics. Untreated, the infection spreads and causes death.
Necrotizing Fasciitis Complications
Complications from necrotizing fasciitis may include:
- local spread of infection, progressive tissue damage;
- systemic spread of infection, sepsis, shock;
- scarring and disfigurement;
- functional loss of an arm or leg; and
If you, your child or a loved one have suffered as a result of necrotizing fasciitis, we can obtain the necessary medical records and have an expert physician review the file free of charge to determine whether a doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent.
Davis Adams lawyers are medical malpractice experts.
Tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements validate our commitment to doing medical malpractice litigation—and doing it better than any other law firm. We are immersed in medical negligence litigation every day, quickly spotting trends as they develop, pioneering new legal strategies and tactics to combat the ever-changing insurance defense industry, and constantly discussing our clients’ cases with leading medical experts around the country. We are always honing our skills as injury attorneys. Nobody does it better.
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Medical malpractice defense lawyers know us. Insurance claims adjusters know us. In fact, most all of the major players in the insurance defense industry in Georgia know who we are, and what we’re capable of doing in a courtroom. They know about our results, because they have seen us in action. And they know that when we pursue a case, we will never settle for anything less than fair treatment for our client in the form of full financial compensation. Choosing Davis Adams means leveraging our years of experience, and our reputation for excellence, to help maximize your recovery.
Having an experienced medical malpractice attorney matters.
Jess Davis and Chad Adams cut their teeth handling the most complex, high-stakes medical malpractice cases, typically regarded as among the most complicated of all personal injury matters. Racking up successful results for their clients in cases other medical malpractice lawyers were turning down, they quickly became “go-to” attorneys to whom other Georgia lawyers refer tough cases. How does this tangibly help our clients? We have the unique ability to quickly read and digest volumes of medical records, to pick up the telephone and speak confidently to our clients’ treating physicians about their diagnoses and prognoses, and to instantly reach the top medical experts in almost any field at the best hospitals and universities in the world to consult on our clients’ cases. This rare expertise is a game changer for our clients, and sets us apart from other personal injury firms who merely dabble in medical negligence cases.
We can help wherever you’re located.
Davis Adams is headquartered in metro Atlanta, but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent medical malpractice victims in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton, and anywhere between. Indeed, our geographic reach is evidenced by the fact that our firm’s largest settlement came in Fulton County, while our largest verdict ($10,000,000) came in rural Jefferson County. So, wherever you reside in Georgia, selecting the best lawyer is more important than hiring the closest lawyer. As a client, you have just one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us, wherever you happen to be located.
What is my medical malpractice case worth?
Most people who contact our firm do so reluctantly. They aren’t excited about the possibility of having to sue someone, and they understand that money won’t solve all of their problems—and certainly can’t heal their injury. But financial compensation is the only remedy available through the civil justice system; it’s the only form of justice the law allows under these circumstances. But we can only provide our clients with guidance as to the fair value of their cases after the case has been fully investigated. The factors we will consider include:
Economic damages, including:
- past medical bills;
- future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans;
- past lost income; and
- future lost income.
Non-economic damages, including:
- physical pain and suffering
- mental or emotional pain and suffering
- loss of consortium (companionship)
- the full value of a life (in wrongful death cases)
Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our clients to avoid the risk and emotional toll associated with trial, and to end their case with certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. A significant percentage of our $75 million in recovered funds for our clients is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend negligent parties know we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.
Fewer cases, more personal attention, better results.
Davis Adams declines to accept the vast majority of cases presented to our firm. The fit has to be just right: the right client with the right type of case, where we feel like our firm can have the maximum positive impact. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down revenue-generating business, we are committed to doing outstanding, hands-on work for a limited number of catastrophically injured clients instead of employing a team of less experienced associate attorneys to churn through a high-volume workload. We simply refuse to become one of those law firms at which the experienced trial lawyers only get involved in the later stages of the case, if at all. From day one, our clients have the collective time, attention, energy, and experience of the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who will be handling their case at trial, which translates to better representation, and better financial recoveries.
Other lawyers often ask, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire some young associate attorneys to handle the unimportant parts of your cases?” That question represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how medical malpractice cases are won or lost, and emphasizes the importance of hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney. There are no unimportant tasks in the cases we handle; victory is always in the details and is never achieved at the maximum level without bringing to bear the full weight of our firm’s substantial experience, dogged determination and blatant refusal to settle for less than our clients deserve.
We do not accept payment unless our client recovers money.
Davis Adams only represents injury victims on a contingency basis, which means that if we do not recover money for our clients, we refuse to accept payment for our services. Additionally, our contingency fee, while reflective of our firm’s quality and success, is nonetheless lower than the fee charged by some firms. We believe, and have proven, that building a financially successful law firm and keeping our fees and expenses to a minimum are not mutually exclusive concepts.