Malpractice Claims for Post-Surgical Infections
Even for some of the more routine procedures, surgery always carries with it a degree of risk. In fact, in all cases, prior to any surgical procedure, a medical professional will go over all risk involved, and obtain consent from the patient to proceed. Although most procedures will go as planned, in some cases, a negative outcome will manifest itself. When this outcome is the result of preventable error on the part of the medical professional, retaining the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney can be crucial to obtaining reimbursement for any injuries suffered. In some cases, the preventable error can lead to infection, as discussed in this investigative report by the Tampa Bay Times about the Johns Hopkins hospital system, which found that medical professionals were performing surgeries in operating rooms that had not yet been properly cleaned and sterilized. A discussion of medical malpractice, generally, as well as how it is specifically applied to post-surgical infections, will follow below.
Medical malpractice is a specialized form of negligence, and a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted, in effect, negligently. Specifically, a successful plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant medical professional owed the injured victim a standard of care, which is determined based on a reasonable medical professional in the same specialty as the defendant;
- The defendant medical professional failed to adhere to that standard of care;
- The failure directly caused the injury to the plaintiff; and
- The injury resulted in ascertainable damages.
Sometimes called a surgical site infection, a post-surgical infection refers to an infection which occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. By its nature, surgery requires the breaking of the epidermal layer, which acts as a natural barrier between the sensitive inner organs of the body and germs from outside. The most common of these germs are staphylococcus, streptococcus, and pseudomonas bacterium, which can cause infections ranging from superficial surface skin infections to life threatening major organ infections. Typically, these post-surgical infections can generally be split into three categories.
- Superficial incisional infections, which occur in the area of the skin where the incision was made;
- Deep incisional infections, which occur beneath the incision area in muscle and the tissues surrounding the muscles; and
- Organ or space SSI, which can be found in any area of the body other than skin, muscle, and surrounding tissue involved in the surgery.
To prove medical malpractice resulting from a post-surgical infection, a plaintiff must show that that the failure to adhere to the standard of care was the direct or proximate cause of the post-surgical infection. In other words, the infection would not have happened but for the negligence.
If the plaintiff can prove the elements of medical malpractice, he/she may be able to recover the following damages from any individual (or entity) that bears responsibility:
- Medical bills to treat, and recover from, the infection;
- Lost wages for any work missed because of the infection;
- Pain and suffering caused by the infection; and
- Emotional distress resulting from the infection.
Further, if the patient plaintiff died as a result of the infection, his/her next of kin would be able to bring a wrongful death action against the responsible party or parties.
Seek Legal Advice
If you contracted an infection after a surgical procedure, contact the attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have years of experience in medical malpractice issues, including post-surgical issues such as complications and infections. We will analyze your situation, and, if we believe that your infection was caused by a preventable error on the part of a medical professional entrusted with your care, we will develop a strategy for pursuing an action against him/her to get you the most money possible to compensate for your suffering. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.