Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF), which results when (sometimes healthy) individuals become exposed to flesh-eating bacteria, is grabbing a lot of headlines recently.
When a Snellville, Georgia graduate student contracted it after a zip-line accident last summer and lost parts of both her arms and one leg, she made national headlines for contracting this “rare” disease. However stats from the CDC indicate that NF is not nearly as rare as the media claims, estimating that some 800 cases are reported nationwide each year.
A small wound—or something as simple as handling undercooked, contaminated meat— can lead to this deadly disease, and the cure is not soap and water. Rather, those who survive with minimal bodily damage are almost always under the care of an attentive physician who diagnoses the condition quickly.
Recently we handled a case for a client who contracted NF when the slide on an automatic pistol pinched his thumb. When he visited the hospital complaining of telltale NF symptoms—excruciating pain, fever, chills, uncontrollable shaking, and diarrhea—they misdiagnosed it as torn ligaments. Hours later when he returned to the hospital with the same, but worsening, symptoms, they finally realized their error and had to amputate his arm.
Some in the medical community have suggested that NF can be hard to detect and easily overlooked. Indeed, the disease can hide and not always be evident on the skin’s surface (idiopathic NF). However, its classic symptoms are obvious and known to every physician practicing in the State of Georgia, thus, there is no excuse for misdiagnosis when the hallmark symptoms are present.
Unfortunately, lawsuits against the medical community in cases of disfigurement potentially caused by negligence can become complicated and are filled with pitfalls for the unwary. The medicine of bacterial infections makes it easy for defense attorneys to confuse the issue—and the jury—sufficiently to prevent a valid claimant from winning his or her case.
As you are well aware, having a lawyer with extensive relevant experience can make the difference between winning a lawsuit and walking away with no compensation. I have written and published scholarly articles on litigation of NF and am well-versed in the tactics that defense attorneys use to destroy the cases of deserving plaintiffs. If you are presented with a case of NF, please don’t hesitate to contact our office for a consultation.