Understanding Surgical Site Infections in New Jersey
In this week’s edition of our ongoing series regarding surgery-related malpractice in New Jersey, we will address the dangerous problem of surgical site infection. As a person planning to undergo surgery or a patient who has recently undergone a surgical procedure, there are some critical things about surgical site infection and other postoperative complications that you should know. In the following article, we will define and examine the issue of surgical site infection to provide a better understanding of its prevalence, as well as factors that place you at increased risk.
Unfortunately, knowing the facts is not always enough. It is incumbent upon doctors and other healthcare providers to take the necessary steps to protect their patients before, during, and after medical procedures – particularly those involving incisions. Open and closed wounds present a major vulnerability for infection and contamination, requiring additional caution and continued monitoring to prevent and identify even the slightest signs of potential complications. When surgeons and medical staff fail to take these precautions, the consequences can be dire. Our experienced team of Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group come across cases like these all too often in our practice and we fight tirelessly to deliver patients the compensation they deserve. If you have questions about surgical site infection or other complications after surgery in New Jersey and are wondering if you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, contact us today at 973-435-4551 to consult with our team free of charge.
What is a Surgical Site Infection (SSI)?
A surgical site infection, or SSI, is defined as an infection related to an operative procedure that occurs at or near the surgical incision within 30 days of the procedure, or within 90 days if prosthetic material is implanted at surgery, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How Often do Surgical Site Infections Occur?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that over 10 million patients undergo inpatient surgery each year in the United States, which accounts for over 25 percent of all hospital stays. Among these patients, between 2 percent and 4 percent experience surgical site infections. The data suggests that surgical site infections are among the leading sources of preventable complications following surgical procedures. While the majority of these infections can be effectively treated with antibiotics, they can also escalate severely, causing further complications, sepsis, and even death. According to the AHRQ, surgical site infections are the prevailing cause of hospital readmissions after operations. Worse yet, about 3 percent of people who undergo surgery and subsequently contract an infection in the vicinity of the operative site ultimately die.
Common Surgeries Resulting in Surgical Site Infection
Some of the most common surgeries that may result in surgical site infection include:
- Cesarean section (C-section)
- Spinal surgery
- Orthopedic surgery (knee replacement, hip replacement)
- Abdominal surgical procedures (bowel resection)
These procedures are performed inpatient; however, not all of them occur in a hospital setting. For example, surgery centers are becoming increasingly prevalent in New Jersey and across the country. While hospitals are better equipped to handle extended stays and procedures requiring recovery under medical supervision for several days or even weeks, surgical centers offer the ability to have certain procedures done, after which patients can be discharged in the same day.
Risk Factors for SSI
There are a host of factors that increase the risk of developing an infection at the surgical site. Some of these are specific to the patient, meaning they are directly related to the patient’s current health or lifestyle practices. Patient-related risk factors for surgical site infection include smoking, conditions such as diabetes, the patient’s age, and lifestyle factors that may lead to malnutrition.
Other risk factors for SSI are procedure-related, meaning the specific circumstances of the surgery increase the patient’s risk for infection. For instance, emergency surgical procedures are more risky by their very nature. Similarly, operating on a wound that has already had significant exposure to bacteria inevitably places the patient at an increased risk for infection.
Find an Attorney for Infection after Surgery in New Jersey
If you suffered a surgical site infection or experienced infection-related complications after surgery, it is advisable to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. If a surgeon, nurse, or another healthcare provider failed to take the necessary steps to prevent your infection, failed to provide adequate follow-up care, or made errors during the surgery itself that contributed to your injuries, you may be able to obtain compensation for economic and non-economic damages. There are time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim in New Jersey, so you should speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the legal team at Fronzuto Law Group today to discuss your unique situation and gather valuable information about your potential for a successful lawsuit.
- Surgical Site Infections, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for the Prevention of Surgical Site Infection
- Surgical Safety Checklist, World Health Organization (WHO)