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Surgical site infections and potential liability issues

Readers might assume that outpatient procedures are less likely to result in surgical infections than procedures that require hospitalization. Yet a recent study involving 284,098 patients in eight different American states reveals that surgical site infections continue to be a risk, even for outpatient procedures.

According to the study results, infections were most often detected within 14 days of a procedure. Fortunately, that early detection may improve the chances of a speedy recovery. Surgical site infections are also relatively rare, occurring in less than 1 percent of the procedures analyzed in the study.

Nevertheless, outpatient procedures are very common in the United States. As a result, a substantial number of Americans could be at risk of experiencing a surgical site infection. Notably, researchers in the study observed that when an infection did occur after an outpatient procedure, it most often required hospitalization. That, of course, defeats the purpose of an outpatient procedure.

As a medical malpractice attorney knows, a painstaking investigation into potential liability or fault may be required when a patient’s condition worsens after an outpatient procedure or surgery. For example, a postoperative infection might have been the result of miscommunication between professionals during the patient’s intake — well before the procedure was performed. Alternatively, a patient may have responded well to a procedure, but experienced a decline in health in the days or weeks following the procedure, perhaps due to postoperative negligence by nurses or other hospital staff.

If an infection was the result of hospital or doctor negligence, a patient deserves to be compensated for his or her pain or suffering, additional medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. If causation is disputed, an attorney can work with medical experts and other professionals to prepare a strong medical malpractice claim.

Source:  Modern Health Care, “Surgical site infections after outpatient surgery rare, but still a risk, study finds,” Sabriya Rice, Feb. 21, 2014