Postoperative Infections Caused by Negligence

Postoperative care is essential to a patients successful recovery.

postoperative-infection-malpractice-lawyerBefore any medical procedure or surgery, your physician will meet with you to discuss what you can expect, and go over any known complications that may arise. You will be asked to sign a document stating that you understand the risks and give your consent to go ahead with the surgery. Infection after the procedure is almost always a risk and can be attributed to many causes. While you are aware of this, so should everyone involved in your post operative care. Developing an infection in itself is not necessarily grounds for a medical malpractice suit, but failing to notice one and treat it quickly is. In the event that you or a family member had the results of a recent procedure compromised because of an untreated infection, you should contact an attorney immediately. A bacterial infection can quickly enter a patients’ bloodstream and create a whole new series of medical problems.

How Negligence May Cause an Infection

While the use of dirty instruments or dust in an operating room could lead to an infection, cases of this type are not typical. More often a post operative infection is a result of poor monitoring of the patient after surgery. Post operative infections are very aggressive. Within hours a localized infection can lead to sepsis, a systemic infection that has entered the bloodstream. Untreated, a patient can go into septic shock, where their blood pressure falls dangerously low. Organs, especially the kidneys, will begin to shut down and the patient faces death from multi organ failure. Sepsis kills over 30,000 people each year and is the 10th leading cause of death.

Postoperative Care

Your postoperative care should begin immediately after your surgery. Monitoring your progress, pain management and care of the incision site are all essential components in ensuring that you recover from the surgery with no complications. Besides the risk of infection, a post op patient is susceptible to blood clots and loss of muscle strength from inactivity. During your recovery, medical personnel should be regularly monitoring your breathing, temperature, blood pressure and pulse. The bandages covering your surgical site will be changed frequently as staff looks for any signs of a developing infection. You will be asked about your pain and discomfort levels and given medications to dull them as necessary.

During your recovery period, the nurses should be reporting any signs of infection to your surgeon. If, for example, a sudden spike in temperature is noted, the physician should be notified immediately and further tests ordered to determine if an infection has begun. Failing to notice the signs of an infection early on caused a Missouri woman, recovering from surgery, to suffer from memory loss, weakness and chronic fatigue. The post op infection had already entered the blood stream before being detected and quickly became life threatening to the patient, who had to remain hospitalized for over a month. The hospital settled her claim against them for $400,000.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Even though you signed consent before your surgery, acknowledging the risk of an infection, your health care providers still have a duty to do their best to prevent one. If your incision site developed an infection that invaded your entire body, get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney. Proper monitoring and post op care should prevent the rapid spread of an infection. It is possible that someone involved in your care was negligent in reporting the symptoms early on.

To speak with a St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer at the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm, call (314) 588-7200 and schedule a free consultation.

 

photo credit: Bludgeoner86

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