Can I Collect Damages for A Staph Infection After Surgery?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, infections caused by various species of Staphylococcus bacteria, as well as Streptococcus and Pseudomonas species, are responsible for most post-operative infections.  Post-op infections are one of the major causes of extended hospital stays and even permanent injury or death.  How do people get infections in a supposedly sterile environment?  If I am the victim of a post-operative infection, can I collect damages for my increased medical bills as well as my pain and suffering?

The Facts About Post-Op Infections

The first step to understanding liability regarding post-operative infections is to understand what causes them.  Doctors divide post-operative infections into three categories, depending on where they are located.

  • Superficial incisional infections. These infections involve only the area where the skin was cut and are the most common types of post-operative infections.  They are often resolved with minimal treatment, although some can become persistent and require more aggressive treatment with various drugs.
  • Deep incisional infections. These infections tend to be more serious, as they reach the deeper areas of tissue surrounding the surgical site.  Without proper treatment, they can become very serious, involving tissue or even organ loss, and can lead to whole-body infection, coma and death.
  • Organ or space infections. When an organ or other part of the body is removed, an infection can develop where there is space left.  It is critical that these infections be identified quickly and treated properly to avoid serious medical complications.

Clearly, the location and extent of the post-operative infection affect the impact the infection will have on the patient.  It is very important that any infection be identified rapidly following surgery, or the consequences for the patient can be very serious.

How Do Medical Personnel Miss or Mistreat Infections?

Since post-operative infections can potentially be so deadly, a question many patients ask is:  how can medical personnel miss something so important? They may also wonder if missing or mistreating an infection is grounds for a lawsuit.

Medical personnel has a duty of care to all patients.  By accepting you as a patient, a doctor, nurse, or any other worker associated with your care has a responsibility to ensure that you are safe and that proper procedures are used to treat you.

Unfortunately, doctors and other healthcare workers are often overworked and stressed.  This may cause them to miss things that they should notice, such as an increase in temperature or even patient complaints of pain.  However, they are not relieved of the responsibility of taking care of patients properly. Any signs of infection after surgery should be examined immediately so that problems can be addressed before they cause serious damage. If a doctor, nurse, or any other medical personnel fails to do this, they are breaching their promise of professional care to you.

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, it is important to discuss your case with a professional personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. Barber & Associates can help you determine how to pursue your medical malpractice case and protect yourself and your family.

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