Post Surgical Infections and Hospital Infections

Post Surgical Infections and Hospital Infections

If you or somebody you love has suffered a serious infection following a surgical procedure or a stay in the hospital, and you suspect it was due to the negligence of the hospital or surgical staff, you may be entitled to bring a medical malpractice claim against them.

Surgical site infections can lead to serious health complications and may even result in the patient's death. Therefore, it is the responsibility and legal obligation of the hospital and surgical staff to do everything they can to help prevent surgical site infections and other forms of infection.

Contact Peter Angelos Law If You Have Suffered an Infection After Treatment!

Healthcare is one of the biggest expenses that you face as citizens of the United States, and for the extortionate cost that you pay, you should not have to worry whether your hospital and surgical staff are following proper hygiene protocols.

If you have suffered a surgical site infection, staph infection after surgery, or any other form of hospital infection, we can investigate your case on your behalf. Through our investigation, we can try to determine whether your case entitles you to bring a claim or not.

We offer an initial consultation and case evaluation free of charge and we will take your case on for no up-front fees. This means you can pursue your case without fear of losing, as we do not take a penny if we cannot win your case.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 410-705-2405.

Why Surgical Infections May Be the Result of Medical Malpractice

In worrying statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 4% of all hospital patients will end up contracting a hospital-related infection. With the hand washing and sterilization training that is taught to our medical providers, this number is shockingly high.

In many cases, hospital-acquired infections result from medical negligence, failure to adhere to cleanliness, sterilization, and poor sanitary protocols. 

If your infection was caused by any of the above, then your infection was likely preventable. If it was preventable, then you may have suffered medical malpractice and could bring a claim to recover your damages and pursue compensation.

Your best option is to contact one of the team here at Peter Angelos Law. We can advise you on your best options during a free case evaluation.

The Duty of Care Your Medical Providers Owe You

Because of the seriousness of hospital infections, your medical providers, as part of their duty of care to you, the patient, have several responsibilities designed to keep you safe.

These key responsibilities include:

  • Hand Hygiene - Utilizing proper hand hygiene is one of the essential ways that your medical providers can minimize the risk of transmitting SSIs and other infections. This includes washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers regularly.
  • Sterilisation and Disinfection - In order to reduce the likelihood of surgical site infections and wound infections, medical providers must ensure proper sterilization and disinfection of medical equipment, surgical instruments, and surfaces.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - All surgeons should wear the appropriate PPE, such as gloves, masks, gowns, and eye protection. This PPE is designed to prevent the transmission of infections during surgical procedures.
  • Antiseptic Technique - Making sure that the correct antiseptic techniques are used during surgical procedures is crucial. This ensures a sterile environment that reduces the chance of a surgical site infection (SSI). This involves avoiding contact with non-sterile surfaces and using proper sterilization practices.
  • Preventing Surgical Site Infections - Practices like administering prophylactic antibiotics to patients and preparing all surgical sites with antiseptic solutions can help prevent SSIs and surgical wound infections.
  • Environmental Cleanliness - All medical providers should be trained to maintain a sterile and clean environment in their work areas. This means ensuring that proper waste disposal and routine cleaning procedures are in place and that the disinfection of surfaces and patient rooms happens regularly. This is essential for disease control and reducing surgical wound infections.
  • Isolation Precautions - If a patient develops an infection, it is crucial that the medical providers attending follow adequate isolation precautions. This can help minimize the risk factors associated with SSIs and wound infections.
  • Monitoring and Surveillance - All hospitals should have their own system for monitoring infection rates and outbreaks. This allows for precautionary measures to be taken to prevent surgical site infections and other hospital-acquired infections.
  • Staff Education and Training - Ensuring that all staff are trained to a high standard in infection prevention and control measures ensures that they are kept up to date with the best practices, especially for surgical patients and for managing surgical wounds.

If the medical providers responsible for your care have failed to adhere to these practices, any infection or injury you have suffered as a result may be down to their negligence. This means you may be entitled to bring a claim against them and hold them liable for the harm you have suffered.

Types of Hospital Infections & Surgical Wound Infection

If you have suffered any of the following types of infection, they may have been caused by negligence and you should contact one of our team so that we can investigate fully into the cause of the infection:

Surgical Site Infections (SSIs)

Surgical site infections occur at the surgical incision site and can involve the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles, or organs. SSIs are classified into superficial incisional, deep incisional, and organ/space infections based on their depth and the tissues involved.

Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

A common hospital-acquired infection occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream via a catheter or central line. This can occur in any part of the body where a catheter has been placed, such as the neck, groin, or chest.

When inserting a catheter or central line, your medical providers must follow strict sterilization practices and should wear the appropriate PPE. The site of the catheter should be sterilized and covered with a clean gauze or plastic covering once in place.

Once your catheters or central line are in place, daily inspection should be carried out to make sure the site does not look infected.

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs)

CAUTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through a urinary catheter. These infections can lead to complications like kidney infections, urosepsis, and kidney damage.

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

For patients who require mechanical ventilation for more than 48 hours, Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a severe and potentially life-threatening complication. Patients who cannot breathe adequately on their own because of various reasons, such as critical illness, respiratory failure, or during and after certain surgical procedures, may require assistance through a ventilator.

However, the use of a ventilator can also predispose patients to VAP, which may cause inflammation and infection of the lower respiratory tract, primarily the lungs. VAP significantly affects patient outcomes, as it is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, length of hospital stay, and healthcare costs.

Staph Infections

Staph infections can be caused by a common type of bacteria that is found inside the nose or on the skin of otherwise healthy individuals. In most cases, this bacterium does not cause any health issues, but sometimes it can enter the body through an open wound. When this happens, it can cause a range of problems, such as minor skin infections, boils, abscesses, or, in the worst-case scenario, sepsis.

Sepsis

Sepsis can be a deadly, life-threatening condition for vulnerable patients. Sepsis usually occurs when the body has an overwhelming response to an infection. This response can lead to widespread inflammation and damage to tissues and organs, causing them to malfunction or fail. When not diagnosed in a timely manner and treated immediately, sepsis can progress to severe sepsis, septic shock, multi-organ failure, and even death.

Infection from Overuse of Antibiotics

Overusing antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These resistant forms of bacteria can pose a significant challenge when treating infections. Susceptible bacteria are killed off when antibiotics are used excessively or inappropriately, but resistant strains are more likely to survive and proliferate.

As a result, these resistant bacteria can cause infections that are difficult to treat, often requiring more potent or multiple antibiotics. Sometimes, these infections may become untreatable with medications, leading to severe complications or even death.

Some of these infections include:

Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI)

This type of infection is caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which can result in severe diarrhea, colitis, and even death. CDI often occurs after antibiotic use, as antibiotics can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the gut, allowing CDI to thrive.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause various infections, including skin infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections. MRSA infections are challenging to treat because of their resistance to commonly used antibiotics.

Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

VRE are enterococci bacteria that have developed resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin. These bacteria can cause various infections, including urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and wound infections.

Identifying an Infection After a Surgery

Symptoms of a hospital-acquired infection may appear any time from two (2) to 30 days following surgery. Fever is one of the most common symptoms of infections, with patients suffering high temperatures, shivering, and aches and pains.

A prolonged cough with discolored mucus can signal a respiratory infection, while a burning sensation during urination may suggest a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) in a hospital setting.

An altered mental state, such as confusion or disorientation, may indicate severe infection or sepsis in patients, while headaches can point to sinus or central nervous system infections.

Nausea and diarrhea are common gastrointestinal symptoms that can result from hospital-acquired infections like Clostridium Difficile, and redness or itching at the site of the surgery or device insertion may signify a localized surgical site infection or an infection associated with an implanted medical device.

Each patient and type of infection is different. Any physical abnormality or unusual sensation following surgery should get reported to your doctor.

Can I Sue If I Got an Infection After Surgery? 

In order to qualify to sue a medical provider for malpractice, you and your attorney must be able to prove the four elements of negligence. Without proof of these four elements, the other party and their insurance company may deny liability.

The four elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Here is how these elements apply in the context of hospital-acquired infection:

Duty

As the victim, you must be able to show that the medical provider owed you a duty of care at the time you developed the infection. All medical providers owe a duty of care, which is a legal duty to act in a reasonable manner to prevent another from suffering harm.

Your medical providers owe you a duty that involves taking appropriate measures to prevent and manage infections.

Breach

You must be able to prove that the medical providers who owed you a duty of care at the time breached their duty of care to you with their actions or inactions. The standard for medical negligence cases is behavior that is grossly substandard from that of a reasonable medical provider.

Examples of how they may breach this duty of care in the context of hospital-acquired infections include inadequate hand hygiene, failure to properly sterilize instruments, improper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), or not adhering to recommended infection control guidelines.

Causation

You must prove that the breach in the duty of care directly caused the infection and injuries you have suffered. This means showing that your infection directly resulted from your medical provider's or hospital's negligence.

It must be proven that your infection most likely would not have occurred if they had adhered to the standard of care. Proving causation can be challenging in infection cases, as it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the infection or rule out other potential causes. This is why you need an experienced attorney, one that has dealt with medical malpractice cases involving infection before.

Damages

Last, you will need to prove that you have suffered damages as a result of the infection caused by the medical provider's or hospital's negligence. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. Sometimes, damages may also include punitive damages.

Talk with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer From Peter Angelos Law Today!

When it comes to post-surgical infections and hospital infections, proving that negligence has occurred can be a difficult task, one best handled by a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Here at Peter Angelos Law, we have a long history of service to the state of Maryland and have won numerous cases for clients suffering serious complications from a surgical or hospital infection. We have working relationships with many of the insurance companies that may be on the other side of the table, and we have access to some of the best medical experts in the field.

Once we take over your case, we become your fierce advocate and we will not stop until we have exhausted every avenue. We do not settle for less than you deserve. From the second you agree to representation, we build a trust-inspiring attorney-client relationship. This includes keeping you informed and educated throughout the case.

Do not delay, contact us today and arrange a free initial case evaluation at 410-705-2405.