How dangerous are surgical site infections?

| Jun 10, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Medical negligence comes in many forms from a misdiagnosis to a failure to recognize fetal distress. With so many complex steps and challenging procedures, surgical errors can be among the most catastrophic examples of medical malpractice. Surgical errors, unfortunately, can lead to devastating complications and deadly conditions.

Surgical site infections (SSI) could affect as many as 300,000 patients per year in the United States. These infections can occur on the surface of the skin in the area where the incision was made or below the skin – subcutaneously – in muscles, organs or other soft tissue. SSIs are the most common of all hospital-acquired infections, and, thus, the costliest. This type of infection accounts for 20 percent of all infections that are acquired while in the hospital and can lengthen a hospital stay, on average, up to nearly 10 days.

Numerous studies have led to various recommendations, including:

  • Smoking: Because they are at higher risk for infection, smokers are encouraged to quit smoking four to six weeks before any type of surgery.
  • Hair removal: Shaving can cause microscopic cuts and abrasions on the skin so only the immediate areas of the surgery should be shaved. In general, clippers should be used rather than razors.
  • Antibiotic sutures: Evidence has grown historically around the benefits of using antibiotic sutures to decrease SSIs.
  • Surgical gloves: It is recommended that the operating team begins double gloving to reduce the risk of holes to the inner glove.

Doctors, nurses, surgeons and all medical professionals must work diligently to protect their patients. Any level of negligence can become deadly. If you or a loved one suffered a worsening condition while in a medical facility, it is important to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.