Infections which are not treated in a timely manner can enter the blood stream, cause sepsis and lead to death. There are many types of infections. Cultures are taken of the sputum, skin and blood to determine the type of infection so that the appropriate antibiotic can be selected to treat. Some antibiotics are broad spectrum, meaning they treat many types of infections. Since it can take a couple of days for the cultures to yield findings, such antibiotics should be administered empirically, at the first sign of infection even before the culture findings are received. This is because time is of the essence. Antibiotics must be given before the infection goes out of control and deadly sepsis develops. This can happen in a short period of time.
Signs of infection are pain or redness over the wound, which maybe warm to the touch. Sometimes, the wound becomes black. There maybe weakness, chills, nausea, or fever. Often, patients with infection feel pain, are weak, and sweat. If infection is suspected, the doctor will order a test to determine if there is an elevation of the white blood cell count. White blood cells combat infection, so an elevated white blood cell count means that there is infection which is being fought. However, sometimes the infection is so bad that it is destroying the white blood cells causing the white blood cell count to actually be low. Fever is associated with infection because it is a sign that infection is being fought by the body. However, if the body cannot fight the infection, there may be no fever. Signs of early infection may be subtle, and not appreciated by the doctor.
Recently, the NY Times reported the case of a 12 year old boy, who cut his arm in the school gym. He saw his pediatrician the next day complaining of vomiting, fever, and pain in his leg. He was sent to the emergency room where the doctor concluded that he had an upset stomach and dehydration. He was given fluids and Tylenol, and sent home. The doctor ignored the signs of infection. He developed sepsis and died three days later.
Aimee Copeland’s tragic story has been reported in the national media.
She is 24 years old, and suffered a gash in her calf as a result of fall. Her leg was sutured. Three days later she suffered pain, and was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. This is a fleshing eating bacteria. She has suffered multiple amputations.
It is not necessary that the wound be large to develop necrotizing fasciitis.
It has been reported that an adult male pricked his hand on a pine needle. The hand started to become red. Fortunately, his wife was a doctor and had him go immediately to the hospital. He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, and given intravenous antibiotics, which saved his life and prevented amputation.
There are 9000-11,500 cases of Group A streptococcus, which causes necrotizing fasciitis, yearly. The Center for Disease Control reports that 25 percent of those patients die of the disease.
If you suffer a wound or even a cut, do not ignore the signs of infection. Get treatment without delay.
Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP represents victims of medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as result of an infection which was not properly treated in a timely manner due to the negligence of a doctor, there may be a good claim of medical malpractice. Consult with us without charge to determine if you have a good case. Call 212 983 3000; email: [email protected]; visit our website: weisfuselaw.com.