Development of cellulitis and necrosis following delayed treatment for an insect bite

Case Studies

Development of cellulitis and necrosis following delayed treatment for an insect bite

Our client attended his GP surgery after suffering a degree of pain and swelling following an insect bite on his shin which had occurred a few days earlier. He was subsequently referred to the local A&E department but his symptoms were such that it was initially suggested by a junior doctor that he should be admitted for treatment for an infection. However, following review by a consultant, our client was discharged home.

As his symptoms worsened, our client re-attended the hospital and was then admitted with cellulitis. At this stage, the swelling had spread and the wound was necrotic and weeping pus. As a result, our client had to undergo numerous operations to debride the wound and remove the dead tissue. A VAC pump was applied which remained in place for some weeks and he then had to undergo further surgery for the application of skin grafts.  

Despite the skin grafts, our client has been left with significant scarring on his shin. As a keen sportsman, he often wears shorts and is self-conscious of the scarring.

We obtained expert evidence which suggested that our client should have been admitted to hospital on his first attendance for elevation, intravenous antibiotics and drainage of the wound. Had he received this treatment, on the balance of probabilities, he would have avoided the need for surgical debridement and skin grafts and his scarring would have been much more limited.

The expert evidence concluded that the treatment provided by the GP was not considered to be negligent and therefore the claim proceeded solely against the hospital for the failure to admit our client and appropriately treat the infection on his first attendance.

Following negotiations with the defendant trust, relatively significant damages were recovered which reflected the extent of pain, suffering and ongoing scarring caused by the defendant’s negligence.

The case was handled by Sarah Gubbins, associate in the clinical negligence team in the London office, and supervised by partner John Kyriacou.

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