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imagePurpose: Patients with necrotizing fasciitis are managed with multiple prompt, radical surgical debridements and critical care support. Debridement and reconstruction are often provided by different surgical teams. Anecdotally, single-specialty management seemed to be a more efficient management strategy. This study aimed to investigate and compare the outcomes of management by plastic surgery versus multiple disciplines through a retrospective economic and clinical analysis of patients with necrotizing fasciitis treated over 8 years. We also present 3 index cases for which our service functioned as the primary management team.
Methods: Necrotizing fasciitis cases evaluated and treated by our department, covering both Level I and Level II Trauma Centers, were reviewed for total charges, length of hospital stay, length of intensive care unit (ICU) stay, and number of procedures. The admission Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score was calculated for each patient. Three comparative index cases of upper extremity necrotizing fasciitis managed primarily by the plastic surgery team are presented in greater detail.
Results: Patients managed primarily by the plastic surgery service had equivalent Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores to patients managed by multiple services for their necrotizing fasciitis, with the average score higher for patients managed by plastic surgery alone. In a case-matched series of upper extremity necrotizing fasciitis, the patients admitted directly to plastic surgery had shorter average lengths of hospital and ICU stays as well as decreased total number of procedures, resulting in decreased average total hospital charges. There were no amputations among the cases treated primarily by the plastic surgery. The patients also required smaller areas of reconstruction with skin grafting despite large initial areas of debridement compared to those whose reconstructive teams differed from the team performing the debridement.
Conclusions: Improved economic and clinical outcomes—as indicated by the reduced lengths of overall and ICU stay, the reduced number of procedures, none of the cases requiring amputation, and the reduced need for skin grafting—may be attainable when the surgeon eventually performing the reconstruction is involved early in management. We propose that, in the interest of improving patient care, a closer collaboration should be established between the reconstructive and primary managing teams.

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