Colorado Surgical Site Infection Attorneys
When you go in for a surgery, whether it be a quick set of stitches or an invasive organ transplant, you expect the surgeons and nurses to keep you as healthy as possible. That includes keeping the operation room, tools, and even their own hands clean and sanitized. Sadly, there are some medical professionals who neglect to remember proper procedures, or simply don’t care. When these negligent healthcare workers are allowed to perform surgeries, patients can contract harmful and often deadly infections.
At Leventhal Puga Braley P.C., our Colorado surgical site infection attorneys have worked with many patients who suffered due to negligent surgical teams, including from the now infamous Porter Adventist Hospital, which allowed for some patients to develop serious infections due to a lack of hygiene. The hospital even admitted some patients may have been exposed to serious infectious diseases including HIV, hepatitis B and C, and bacterial or viral infections. That kind of negligent behavior, sadly, is nothing new to our medical malpractice attorneys. If you have developed a surgical site infection due to a medical professional’s negligence, call our firm at (303) 759-9945 or toll-free at (877) 433-3906.
Hospitals are incredibly dirty. There are patients who are struggling with disease, patients who have lost control of their bowels, patients giving birth, and patients vomiting from illnesses. Because of the mass of sick people who go through a hospital every day, you would expect hospitals to have a strict cleaning regiment, especially in operation rooms. Surgeries involve cutting the body open. This kind of trauma can expose a patient to many kinds of dangers and complications, with infections being one of the most common ones.
There are many ways that an infection can happen during surgery, and all of them involve some form of negligence. You may have suffered a surgical infection because medical professionals:
Neglected to clean the surgical tools: Every surgery will require at least a handful of tools. These tools should always be properly sanitized before they are used on a patient. An unclean scalpel, for example, could quickly introduce harmful bacteria or viruses into the patient’s body.
Neglected to clean the operating room: Surgeries will take place in designated operating rooms that the hospital should keep clean and sanitized between operations. If the room is not properly cleaned, then a patient could contract a deadly infection.
Neglected to clean the incision site: Before a surgery starts, medical professionals should thoroughly sanitize the areas of the body that they will be cutting into. This can mean killing off any bacteria on a patient’s skin to ensure it does not enter the bloodstream. Failure to sanitize an incision site can result in a deadly condition known as sepsis.
Neglected to wash their hands: An incredibly important step of the surgery process is making sure that the hands of all nurses and surgeons are properly washed and covered in gloves. If this step is neglected, then it could put the patient at serious risk of suffering an infection, as bacteria could travel from the surgeon’s hands to the patient’s open wound.
Neglected to clean the wound following surgery: After the surgery is performed, the attending doctors and nurses should carefully clean the wound and give the patient thorough instructions on how to keep the wound clean as it heals. If they do not do this, then the wound could develop an infection.
Typically, an infection will begin to show around 30 days after a surgery. Within that time frame, if you are experiencing fevers, redness, or inflammation around the incision site, and notice any pus discharge from the wound, then it is very likely that you have an infection. The wound itself will likely not heal properly or fully close. When leaving the hospital after surgery, be sure to ask your doctor about how long your wound will take to heal. If your incision site is taking much longer than what you were told, it is possible that you have an infection and should seek medical help immediately.
There are three main kinds of surgical site infections, which may present with different symptoms and have different levels of severity. These include:
Superficial incision infection: This is one of the most noticeable infection types, as it happens right under the area of the skin where the incision was made. Typically, you will experience this kind of infection following a more minor surgery that did not require an invasive procedure. With this kind of infection, you should notice pus, inflammation, redness, and swollenness around the wound.
Deep incision infection: This infection develops under the incision site within the muscle and the surrounding tissue. This can be more dangerous, as it can be difficult to tell if you have an infection. There may not be an incredibly noticeable sign of pus discharge. However, you can still develop a fever, experience pain near the wound, and need more time to heal.
Organ and surrounding area infection: This kind of infection can be found in any area other than the skin, muscle, or tissue surrounding muscle. Oftentimes, it will be in an organ or in a cavity near an organ. This is the most dangerous infection, as it could easily damage whatever organ it is in or around, leading to serious health risks. You may experience fevers, pain, and a delay in proper healing.
Infections, especially those deep in your body, can be fatal. Infections open the door for you to develop any number of dangerous conditions and illnesses. For example, pneumonia is caused by bacteria developing in your lungs. This disease claims millions of lives each year, as it makes it difficult to breathe and can severely drain your body. If you develop another illness, such as the flu, it can be deadly.
But surgical site infections go far beyond pneumonia, often leading to blood poisoning, or sepsis. This occurs when your body overreacts to an infection and overloads your blood with chemicals used to fight the infection. This sudden influx can cause extreme damage to the bloodstream and organs of your body, resulting in septic shock.
If you develop septic shock, your blood pressure will drop dramatically, leading to death. That is why seeking medical help the moment you believe you may have an infection is so important. Otherwise, you could be at risk for developing sepsis, or any number of dangerous conditions brought on by bacteria infections. If your concerns are not taken seriously, then be sure to get a second opinion. Taking too long to get proper treatment for the infection could quickly lead to septic shock.
Once you have been treated for your infection and your doctors believe that you are in the clear, it is time to consider your financial situation. The initial surgery that gave you the infection likely already cost you a pretty penny, even with insurance. From there, you also had a second diagnosis for your infection, medication to treat the illness, and possibly another surgery. Not to mention the extended time off from work in order to recover. All around, you could find yourself swimming in medical debt with no paycheck to help you through it. However, if a negligent surgeon or nurse caused your infection, then you may have a medical malpractice claim on your hand.
When doctors, surgeons, nurses, and hospitals act in negligence, it is considered medical malpractice. These healthcare professionals and their employers must be held to a strict standard, as one slip up could easily end a person’s life. If your infection developed due to negligence on the part of the hospital or one of their employees, then they should be held accountable. Filing a medical malpractice claim can also help you recover compensation for all of the damages that you have had to suffer through. This can include:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Lost wages
- Lowered quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Of course, getting proper compensation is easier said than done. The hospital and their insurance provider are likely to fight you tooth and nail. They may try to blame you and claim you didn’t keep your wound properly clean. Or they may try to get you to take an insultingly low settlement offer, claiming that it is the best you will get from them. Such pushy and underhanded tactics are common and can be difficult to overcome without the help of an experienced attorney.
Developing a surgical site infection can be incredibly painful. Your wound may refuse to close, the incision site can become inflamed, and the fevers may make you feel almost delusional. That kind of pain and suffering can seem next to impossible to live with, and you shouldn’t have to suffer it in the first place. If you have developed an infection due to the negligence of a hospital or medical professional, then you need the help of an experienced Denver medical malpractice attorney.
At Leventhal Puga Braley P.C., our legal team has more than 40 years of experience fighting for injured patients. We have won record-breaking cases and thoroughly understand how to file a successful claim, from running an investigation into the hospital where your infection started to advocating for our clients’ right in a trial. To learn how we can fight for you, contact our Denver office at (303) 759-9945 or toll-free at (877) 433-3906 and schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
- Why A Surgeon May Be Responsible For Your Infection
- Infections Confirmed In Porter Adventist Surgery Patients