It's not the flu, it's flesh-eating bacteria

It sounds like a Missouri patient's worst nightmare -- being diagnosed with the flu while actually suffering devastating, life-threatening infection by so-called "flesh-eating" bacteria. However, this has been a reality for some patients who have sought medical help, according to some reports. One woman who went to a health care professional complaining of flu-like symptoms was diagnosed with the flu in January 2018. As the pain beneath her arm worsened, however, she was returned to the hospital two days later in an emergency condition.

The woman underwent surgery to treat necrotizing fasciitis, an infection that can destroy the tissue of skin and muscle. Over 30 percent of the woman's soft tissue was infected with the bacteria, and doctors are uncertain where the patient developed the infection. There are a number of common types of bacteria that can cause the condition. People most frequently develop the disease when a break in the skin becomes an entry point for bacteria.

Some symptoms of the dangerous disease can appear to be superficially similar to those of the flu. For example, fatigue, chills, nausea and fever are common examples. However, unlike flu patients, people with flesh-eating bacterial infections also suffer high levels of pain from a wound on the body. The wound itself can be red, purple and swollen, indicating the infection. Antibiotics and surgery can be used to treat the condition, which has a high rate of fatalities -- approximately 27 percent of people who contract the disease die.

Mistaken diagnoses can lead to much more dangerous consequences further down the road. In some cases, the failure of a doctor to correctly diagnose a disease can rise to the level of malpractice. A medical malpractice lawyer can consult with a victim of misdiagnosis to pursue compensation for the ongoing harms caused by a doctor or hospital error.

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