What Is a Postoperative Infection?

“A postoperative infection is any kind of infection that occurs following a surgical procedure.” This type of infection can develop at the surgical incision itself or it can be more systemic, affecting the whole body. (1)

Symptoms of a Postoperative Infection

If you have surgery, you might end up with an infection. Your doctors should be able to adequately diagnose and treat a postoperative infection. But sometimes they don’t.

Signs of you may have an infection, especially if you are experiencing more than one of them, include:

  • Redness — particularly if accompanied by pain, pus, or both. (2)
  • Pain — some pain following surgery is not unusual, but it should not be getting worse. (3)
  • Tenderness — sensitivity to touch. (4)
  • Swelling — although swelling right after surgery is expected, it should go away and not be getting worse. (5)
  • Warmth — warmth around your surgical site. (6)
  • Fever — a fever continuing a day or two after surgery is common; longer is not. (7)
  • Delayed Healing — a “non-healing surgical wound can occur after surgery when a wound caused by an incision doesn’t heal as expected.” (8)

What Is an SSI?

Your unbroken, undamaged skin is a natural barrier to bacteria, dirt, and other contaminants. Healthy skin protects you against infection.

Surgery breaks that barrier. Bacteria can infect you at your surgical site.

If you develop an infection after surgery, it is called a surgical site infection, or SSI. Following surgery, your chances of developing a surgical site infection are about 1% to 3%. (9) Any SSI, “may cause redness, delayed healing, fever, pain, tenderness, warmth, or swelling.” (10)

If you or a loved one suffered due to the misdiagnosis of an infection after surgery, contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Quick Diagnosis Is Critical

If you develop a postoperative infection, it is important for your doctor to diagnose the infection as soon as possible. “Some postoperative infections can be very serious, resulting in organ failure or even death.” (11)

If you have an infection, you end up getting sicker and needing to stay longer in the hospital. “Patients who develop an SSI require significantly more medical care. If an SSI occurs, a patient is 60 percent more likely to spend time in the ICU after surgery than is an uninfected surgical patient, and the development of an SSI increases the hospital length of stay by a median of two weeks.” (12)

Postoperative infections “also contribute significantly to mortality.” Many thousands of patients die each year due to SSIs. And if you develop a surgical site infection, the chance of your dying after surgery is doubled. (13)

Difficult to Diagnose an SSI

“Diagnosing a surgical site infection can be challenging, as the signs and symptoms are frequently nonspecific and may lack sensitivity depending on the clinical scenario.” (14)

Just as there are many types of surgeries, “the diagnostic criteria and tests used to confirm the diagnosis of the surgical site infection differ based on its location, depth and severity.” (15)

Knowledgeable, skilled doctors check on their patients regularly. They keep an eye out for specific signs and symptoms of possible infection associated with the type of surgery you have had. If they don’t, you could suffer more illness and injury.

Your Legal Options

Did you develop a postoperative infection and suffer injuries because your doctor did not diagnose and treat your infection properly? If so, talk to a reputable, qualified attorney about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Your attorney knows how to guide you through the entire legal process. This includes determining how to proceed with your lawsuit.

Was It Negligence?

Your doctors, and potentially the hospitals they work in, are liable for medical malpractice if they are guilty of negligence.

As an injured patient, you must show your “physician acted negligently in rendering care, and that such negligence resulted in injury.” The attorney you hire must prove four legal elements are true: (16)

  1. A professional duty was owed to you as a patient.
  2. Your doctor or other health care provider breached such duty.
  3. An injury was caused by the breach.
  4. Damages resulted from your injury.

“Duty comes into play whenever a professional relationship is established between the patient and health care provider.” In civilized society, every “person owes a duty of reasonable care” to other people. In terms of a professional setting, a doctor providing service to a patient owes “a duty of reasonable professional care to the patient.” (17)

If you were harmed due to the misdiagnosis of an infection after surgery, you may be eligible for compensation.

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How W&L Can Help

General medical malpractice laws exist across all 50 states. However, each state has its own specific laws. For example, if you were injured in New York, hire a New York attorney with a solid history of handling and winning medical malpractice cases there. The same goes for any other state, such as California.

Weitz & Luxenberg is based in New York City, with offices around the country, including California. We have been handling wrongful death, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for over 30 years.

Even more importantly, we have a proven track record of winning. Here are some examples of Weitz & Luxenberg’s success with medical malpractice cases for our clients.

  • $500,000 – A young mother’s life was forever altered because medical professionals failed to diagnose her uterine infection. Her uterus was irreparably damaged due to misdiagnoses and multiple surgical mistakes. Botched surgeries were followed by numerous, severe medical complications.
  • $2.35 million – A single mother with a young child died because doctors failed to diagnose and treat her pancreatitis from the start. She exhibited signs at her first ER visit, but doctors sent her home. The next day, an ambulance rushed her to another ER. Doctors finally diagnosed her, but then ignored her for hours. While waiting, our client suffered seizures and went into a coma due to a sepsis infection. She suffered respiratory failure and died the next day.