Any time a person undergoes surgery, it can be a scary experience, especially when you consider all of the factors involved. The patient will be administered anesthesia and must rely on the doctor and operating room staff to perform the operation correctly and keep them safe throughout the entire process. Unfortunately, even if the surgery ends in success, there is still the possibility of issues after it is completed. This is the case with surgical site infections, or SSI. These can oftentimes be serious infections that require immediate treatment.
As with any kind of infection, SSIs are most often caused by germs and bacteria that infect the area. The most common forms of bacteria include streptococcus, pseudomonas, and staphylococcus. These types of infections can occur through the touch of a contaminated doctor or nurse, a non-sterilized surgical tool, or even airborne germs. SSIs vary in severity and are categorized into four different classifications: clean wounds, clean-contaminated wounds, contaminated wounds, and dirty wounds.
Certain patients face an increased risk of surgical site infections. This includes patients who endure surgery for longer than two hours, those who have certain diseases or medical problems, elderly or overweight patients, or patients who smoke, have diabetes, cancer, or a weak immune system. Emergency surgery and surgery performed on the abdominal area can also increase the chance of a person contracting a surgical site infection. Wound infections can be either superficial (affecting the skin area only), deep (affecting the muscles and tissue), or organ / space (affecting the organs and space of surgery).
SSIs can cause patients to experience some mild symptoms, but other times the symptoms can be more severe. Mild symptoms include redness, fever, pain, swelling, tenderness, and slowed healing. Other symptoms are more specific and depend on what kind of infection the patient has. For a superficial infection, the patient may notice the wound site producing pus. A deep infection may have pus as well, but it may additionally cause the wound to reopen. An organ infection may result in an abscess and inflammation. This can be seen when an X-ray is done or if the doctor reopens the wound.
The most common forms of treatment involve wound care and antibiotics. For wound care, the patient will have the old bandage and packing removed and changed out. The wound can be cleaned and redressed with new packing and bandages. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help fight the infection. In some cases, invasive surgical treatment may be needed to open the wound and clean it.
If you have been harmed by negligence — such as a doctor using a non-sterile surgical tool or a contaminated doctor touching your wound — you may have legal options. We encourage you to seek out representation to help determine if you have the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. You will want to explore your legal options especially if your surgical site infection required you to have additional medical treatments and you were forced to miss time from work.
Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is dedicated to protecting the rights of the injured when doctors negligently cause them harm. Our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are here to help you from start to finish, working to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call us today to learn how we may be able to help you file your potential lawsuit.