Types of surgical infections (SSI) surgical site infections
Modern medicine has made great strides in saving people’s lives. Yet as of 2007 approximately 1.4 million patients developed a surgical infection of some severity which contributed to 99,000 deaths each year from outpatient or hospital associated infections.
Even in a sterile hospital setting, bacteria run amuck.
Infections are hospital or medical treatment induced if they appear 48 hours or more after hospital admission or within 30 days after discharge. If the surgical infection is caused by an implanted medical device or prosthesis then the window of infection is to one year.
A patient can develop an infection in any part of the body, but the most common infection areas are the urinary tract, respiratory tract, and bloodstream, also known as septicemia.
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Some patients develop surgical infections because their surgical incision is contaminated. Contamination can happen from dirty hands as well as bacteria carrying IV lines, catheters, and hospital instruments.
Infection from colonoscopy
The colonoscopy is a relatively common and safe procedure except when it’s not. About six years ago, 200 people at a Pennsylvania hospital were notified that during their colonoscopies which spanned a four month period, the colonoscopes were improperly cleaned putting them at risk for hepatitis and HIV infections. Colonoscopes are flexible tubes used to examine rectums and large intestines. Similar mistakes also happened in New York and California.
Infection after colon cancer surgery
Many types of bacteria inhabit the colon or large intestine which poses risks for people having color cancer surgery. Bacteria can contaminate the incision on the skin or the abdominal organs or cavity. Infection is also dependent on whether or not the doctor uses minimally invasive techniques through laparoscopic surgery or open surgery.
Infection after appendectomy
Risk of infection is common after an appendectomy. The risk is greater if your appendix is ruptured. Pus is a sign of infection. If your appendix incision bleeds, produces fluids or pus; this is a sign of infection requiring emergency treatment. Blood poisoning happens when untreated bacterial infection enters the blood stream. Blood poisoning or septicemia symptoms include the sudden onset of nausea, fever, chills, disorientation, and rapid heart rate.
After surgery everyone breathes a sigh of relief that they survived and are on the seemingly road to recovery. However, the coast is not clear yet. Patients and their care takers must be astutely aware of symptoms of infection after surgery.
Patients and their families must also be educated after surgery and upon leaving the hospital as to the serious and less serious symptoms of infection. A hospital’s failure to educate patients or their caregivers about the possible symptoms of infection after surgery might be considered medical malpractice.
A doctor’s failure to treat infection post surgery is also considered medical malpractice.
First and foremost, people should watch for incision infections or infections in their blood.
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Here are some tips for identifying symptoms of infection after surgery:
- A fever over 101 degrees means your body is fighting an infection. Take your temperature every day at the same time.
- Having trouble breathing? This could indicate a blood clot in the lungs. Seek medical help immediately.
- Blood clots in the leg called deep vein thrombosis or DVT can move through the bloodstream to the lungs or brain, causing difficulty breathing, a stroke, or other problems.
- Are you very tired? After surgery everyone is weak but as you recover, you should get stronger every day. If you are feeling weaker, your body is probably trying to fight an infection or a blood clot. Seek medical help immediately.
- Do you have an excruciatingly painful headache? A painful headache could mean a blood clot is moving to the brain. Call your doctor ASAP.
- Are you suffering severe pain? If your pain has gone from bad to worse, you may be havingsurgical complications related to infection. Seek medical help now.
- Is your incision pus-filled? A little clear drainage is normal but yellow or green pus is not. Pus is a sign of infection. Contact your doctor now.
- Is your incision streaked with red, getting hard or hot to the touch? Some redness is normal at the incision site, but should decrease over time, rather than becoming redder as the incision heals. Red, hot, and hard incisions are signs of infection. An infected incision may begin to harden as the tissue underneath becomes inflamed. The incision may begin to appear swollen or puffy as well. Don’t wait until it gets worse; seek medical help now.
- Is your incision starting to separate? Cover the wound with a moist bandage or clean piece of cloth and get medical help.
- Are you unable to eat? Patients need adequate nutrition to grow stronger and get better. If you are vomiting and cannot eat or take in liquids, seek medical help immediately.
- Are you straining to urinate or have a bowel movement? Do not take any over-the-counter remedies. These are signs of more serious complications. Get medical help quickly.
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Has your loved one suffered a fatal surgical infection? Are you at a loss for how to proceed? Please contact the Pennsylvania law firm, Monheit Law, to find out what your legal options are for filing amedical malpractice lawsuit.