During flu season in Kentucky, many people visit their doctors to report symptoms such as fever, aches, chills, coughing and congestion. In some cases, flu-like symptoms can signify the presence of flesh-eating bacteria, a condition known as necrotizing fasciitis. The condition destroys a person’s skin and soft tissue and can require surgical removal of the affected parts of the body to save the patient’s life.

Symptoms of the flesh-eating bacteria such as fever, chills, fatigue and vomiting mimic those of the flu and can lead to a misdiagnosis in some cases. A person with the condition may also experience pain in the infected area, and skin may become red or purplish.

Necrotizing fasciitis is usually caused when bacteria enters the skin through an open cut or wound. After the bacteria has entered a person’s body, it can spread quickly, and symptoms may begin within hours. The first line of treatment is typically antibiotics, but some people may require emergency surgery to remove diseased tissue to prevent the condition from spreading. The fatality rate of the condition is nearly 27 percent.

Failure to diagnose a condition constitutes medical malpractice in some cases, especially when the misdiagnosis leads to a worsened medical condition because the patient was not administered proper treatment. For example, a person who has been misdiagnosed with the flu may be told to go home and drink fluids and rest. Patients who are actually suffering from necrotizing fasciitis may need to later undergo emergency surgery that would not have been necessary if the condition had been recognized earlier.

Those who have been injured by medical malpractice may wish to speak to an attorney. A qualified legal professional may be able to assist victims of medical malpractice by examining medical records and other documents, consulting expert witnesses, conducting legal research and filing a lawsuit against any negligent medical providers.