• Mar
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    How Can Medical Malpractice Lead to Post-Operative Infections?

    Infection Facts

    When a patient is told that they need surgery, their fears and worries are often focused on the procedure itself. But in many instances, the real dangers of undergoing an operation come from surgical wound infections that arise days after the operation took place. According to the Centers for Disease Control, of the roughly 27 million operations that are performed in the United States each year, approximately half a million result in a patient being diagnosed with a postoperative surgical site infection, and these infections lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and in some instances, death. What is most disturbing about these statistics is that in most cases, surgical site infections can be prevented either through the use of prophylactic antibiotics administered to patients before and after the surgery or through careful attention to surgical technique and maintaining sterility. When a physician and their staff fail to attend to these preventative measures, it is frequently considered negligence. Let’s take a closer look at how medical malpractice can lead to post-operative infections.

    The CDC says that “the most critical factors in the prevention of postoperative infections … are the sound judgment and proper technique of the surgeon and surgical team, as well as the general health and disease state of the patient.” The organization points to the existence of airborne microorganisms as a risk factor which can be managed by prescribing antibiotics prior to as well as after the surgery.  It is essential that the antibiotics be provided beforehand, as they are only able to limit infection when given within 3 hours of infection – even delaying the administration of antibiotics to beyond three hours after infection will significantly decrease the medication’s effectiveness. They also indicate that it is essential that the patient is defended against the risk of infection during the course of the surgery by steps taken by staff, including having doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers thoroughly clean their hands and arms, wearing special hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves, cleaning the skin at the site of the surgery, and guarding against having family and friends touching the surgical wound or dressing after the surgery.

    The World Health Organization says that in the United States alone, surgical site infections have contributed to patients spending more than 400,000 extra days in the hospital per year and additional costs of $900 million per year. They have provided a list of 29 recommendations for ways to stop surgical infections, and these recommendations were published internationally. If a hospital or health care professional fails to follow these basic guidelines and you or someone you love suffered an infection as a result of their lack of care, they may be held legally responsible for the damages that you’ve suffered.

    For more information on whether your surgical site infection was the result of medical malpractice, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the professionals at Jarve, Kaplan, Granato & Starr LLC today for a free consultation.

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