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Flesh eating bug almost kills new mother

By Clare Gooch

A young mother from Essex nearly lost her life earlier this year having developed a rash on her stomach shortly after giving birth to her daughter.

Laboratory samples

Charleigh Chatterton gave birth to her daughter at Colchester Hospital on 22 April 2023. Six days post delivery, Charleigh developed a rash across her stomach. She described the rash as hot to touch, as hot as a kettle ”, and was accompanied by flu like symptoms. Her partner became concerned and called the midwife at Colchester Hospital for advice, who requested she attend hospital to be checked.

Upon Charleigh’s arrival, Doctors carried out several tests to investigate her symptoms, which all came back clear. Despite this, her condition continued to worsen. A scan was undertaken that showed pockets of gas underneath tissue/skin, which raised alarm bells. She was eventually diagnosed with Necrotising Fasciitis, a flesh-eating bug which if not treated promptly can have catastrophic consequences.

Luckily for Charleigh her diagnosis was prompt. However, there are times where a diagnosis is missed or delayed, which can also have catastrophic consequences.

Charleigh had to have emergency surgery to remove large amounts of dead tissue to stop the flesh-eating bacteria from spreading. She was kept sedated for three days following surgery and was in hospital for two weeks recovering from the surgery.

What is necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis is an uncommon, although not rare, medical and surgical emergency. The infection is reported to affect tissue beneath the skin  and can see a minor injury become a life-threatening one, if not treated quickly.

Symptoms can present as early flu-like symptoms which can quickly develop into a rash, with vomiting and swelling of affected areas, before it spreads through the body causing dizziness and confusion.

It can progress very quickly and lead to serious problems such as and organ failure.

If you are concerned by any of the listed symptoms, we encourage you to contact your GP or local hospital to seek urgent medical advice.

We support many individuals who have suffered as a result of a delay in diagnosis or a missed diagnosis and have suffered catastrophic consequences as a result. If you feel that you have suffered a delay in diagnosis or been mistreated , please contact us so that we can begin to support you.

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Clare has worked in Medical Negligence for over 10 years.  She’s a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team based in Switalskis’ London office.

Senior Associate Solicitor

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