Surgeries are intended to improve a patient’s quality of life by treating a disease or condition, or by restoring bodily functions. But in some cases, errors made during surgery can lead to postoperative infections. Already in a weakened state after surgery, a patient’s body may have difficulty recovering from such and infection and may not be able to fight it off at all.
This can lead to patients suffering serious side effects or other illnesses while still in the recovery period post-operation. In rare but tragic circumstances, death may occur. All postoperative infection victims should know what to expect if they decide to file a lawsuit.
What Are Post-Operative Infections?
A postoperative infection (also known as a surgical site infection – or SSI) is an infection that a medical patient acquires after a surgical event. For instance, a patient undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone may accidentally acquire an infection if bacteria enters an open wound(s) used by surgeons to repair bone and muscle tissue.
Post-operative infections are normally identified within 30 days of surgery.
Post-operative infections can be terrible experiences for any patient to suffer. Because many patients are already weakened or injured at the time of infection, a postoperative infection may cause more harm or long-lasting side effects than it would have, had the patient not recently had an operation.
How Are Postoperative Infections Caught?
In most cases, post-operative infections are caught only when a patient begins exhibiting one or more signs of the infection. The following symptoms may indicate a postoperative infection:
- Acquire a fever
- Suffer from sepsis
- Suffer organ failure
- Have abscesses form
- Lapse into a coma
- Suffer additional complications
In some cases, post-operative infections can cause the original effects of the surgery to be negated.
Why Do Post-Operative Infections Occur?
Post-operative infections may occur for several reasons. These include:
- Surgical tools were used when they were not properly sterilized. Bacteria on the tools then entered the patient’s body, entering the bloodstream or other fluids to be absorbed and spread
- Bandages used in the closing stages of the surgery were not be sterile
- The conditions of the operating room were not be sterile
- A surgeon may have prescribed the wrong medication following a surgery
More specifically, a post-operative infection usually occurs because of a failure to properly monitor a patient after surgery. When properly monitored, a doctor may be able to identify and treat a budding infection in its earliest stages, preventing the symptoms from growing over time.
Additionally, some patient-based factors can make one more or less vulnerable to postoperative infection. Factors such as whether the patient smokes, has cancer, has excess weight, or has a weakened immune system can all play a role in whether or not an infection takes hold.
What Types of Surgeries Can Result in Post-Operative Infections?
Any type of surgery may result in a postoperative infection because all types of surgery use medical instruments, take place in an operating room, and otherwise expose a patient to the open air and provide opportunities for bacteria to enter the body.
How Common Are Post-Operative Infections?
Post-operative infections are far too common considering the medical training that healthcare providers are given. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that between 2% and 4% of all patients who undergo inpatient surgical procedures end up acquiring a postoperative infection or SSI at some point. In another, independent study researchers found that nearly 5% of all hospital patients experienced a major infection after surgery.
The New York State Department of Health also indicates that up to 3% of hospital patients suffer from a hospital-acquired infection of one kind or another every day. These include SSIs.
New York Post-Operative Infection Rates
New York hospitals report SSIs of four types. SSIs are acquired by patients at annual rates of:
- 4.1 out of 100 for colon surgery, or 798 total
- 1 out of 100 for hip surgery, or 338 total
- 1.1 out of 100 for abdominal hysterectomies, or 186 total
- 1.4 out of 100 for coronary artery bypass graft surgeries, or 148 total
Are Post-Operative Infections Types of Medical Malpractice?
Technically, any postoperative infection lawsuit is a type of medical malpractice case. However, medical malpractice requires that negligence be proved on the part of one’s medical provider or surgeon. The most common type of negligence is the failure to correctly monitor a patient after surgery, allowing an infection to take hold and spread.
But medical malpractice post-operative infection cases can be difficult to prove. Skilled and knowledgeable New York lawyers who have experience in medical malpractice cases are the best representatives for a postoperative infection victim.
What to Know About Postoperative Infection Lawsuits
If a surgery patient suspects that they have been infected as a result of their surgery, they may be able to seek damages against the surgeon or hospital. However, a detailed investigation of surgical records and personal accounts will be needed to secure a victory.
For instance, the court may demand documentation for the follow-up visits or monitoring procedures for the surgeon or hospital staff. These records may be able to prove one way or the other whether negligence was shown during the patient’s monitoring stage.
A postoperative infection lawsuit can be difficult to win without adequate evidence. But all victims can hold the responsible party accountable and possibly receive damages or compensation for pain and suffering and/or loss of life with the right legal counsel.
Compensation from a Postoperative Infection Lawsuit
A postoperative infection lawsuit can result in serious damages being awarded to the plaintiff if negligence is proven. Compensation may include:
- Costs for medical treatment following and for the surgery which resulted in the infection
- Damages for pain and suffering, both physical and emotional
- Compensation for loss of income if the resulting surgery required the victim to take time off work
- Compensation for long-term disabilities or damages, including compensation if the victim died and loved ones are pressing the lawsuit
Contact Postoperative Infection Lawyers in New York Today
Anyone who has suffered a post-operative infection should contact Sobo & Sobo right away. With over 50 years of winning all types of medical malpractice cases for victims throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley, the attorneys at Sobo & Sobo understand how difficult it is to carry out one of these cases alone. Contact them today for a free consultation, or visit one of their NYC or Hudson Valley office locations.