Surgical Site Infections
When people hear the term medical malpractice, they often imagine cases involving obvious misdiagnosis or a botched surgical operation. While this type of negligence can and does occur, medical malpractice actually covers a much wider range of conduct. For instance, one of the most common legal claims raised by injured patients is that their doctor’s negligence led to a surgical site infection.
Surgical site infections can have serious consequences for patients, requiring them to undergo additional surgeries, remain hospitalized, and take a variety of medications, all of which can prove ruinously expensive. If you suffered an infection after surgery and believe that the condition was the result of negligence, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.
What is a Surgical Site Infection?
Often referred to as post-surgery infections, surgical site infections are infections that occur after surgery in the area of the body that was operated on. These types of infections often only involve the skin and so heal relatively quickly, although more serious cases can also involve infections of the tissues under the skin, organs, or even implanted materials.
Surgical site infections are broken down into three categories. The first is known as a superficial incision infection and occurs only where the actual incision was made. The second is referred to as a deep incisional infection, a type of infection that primarily affects the muscle and tissues beneath the incision. Finally, the most serious type of surgical site infection is known as an organ or space infection and affects any area of the body other than the skin, surrounding tissue, or muscle, such as body organs.
Symptoms of Infection
The symptoms of a surgical site infection depend on the severity of the infection, but generally include:
- Pain and redness around the surgical site;
- Drainage from the wound; and
In many cases, these symptoms don’t arise for weeks after surgery. For this reason, patients are encouraged to keep a sharp eye out for early signs of infection, including heat, redness, swelling, and drainage at the surgical site. Increasing pain at the surgical site is also a good sign that you may be developing an infection.
There is a risk of infection whenever surgery is performed, as the invasive nature of the procedure leaves the body vulnerable to dangerous bacteria. Because of this risk, surgeons are required to make infection prevention a priority by:
- Cleaning operating rooms and recovery areas;
- Ensuring that the operable area is clean;
- Prescribing antibiotics; and
- Using sterilized tools during the surgery itself.
When an infection can be linked to a medical professional’s negligence, that individual or the hospital where the surgery took place could be held liable for resulting damages. In most cases, surgical site infections are caused by a failure to:
- Sanitize medical tools;
- Use proper surgical techniques; or
- Perform surgery in a sterile environment.
Failing to keep the surgical site clean, and generally using improper sanitation procedures can also cause serious post-surgery infections.
Seek an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney