Questions About Surgical Site Infections

A hospital is supposed to be a place of healing, where patients go to be made better. When you or a loved one is in the hospital for a surgical procedure, you expect you will be treated properly and not exposed to any unnecessary danger. However, there is a growing epidemic of bacterial infections, injuring more than 500,000 surgical patients each year. Almost all of these infections could have been prevented with proper hygiene, following standard procedures and avoiding dangerous medical equipment.

What causes hospital-acquired and surgical site infections?

The direct cause of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), including surgical site infections (SSIs), is bacteria. When bacteria enter your body through a surgical incision, they multiply and release toxins that damage your body's cells. Sometimes your body's immune system fights off the infection, but sometimes it does not.

How dangerous are these infections?

It depends. If you catch strep throat from someone in a hospital, that technically would be a hospital-acquired infection, or HAI. However, some truly deadly bacteria are known for causing HAIs, and one such killer, MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), is on the rise in the United States. MRSA cannot be cured with normal antibiotics because it has developed a resistance to their effects.

Surgical site infections are especially dangerous because the surgical incision allows bacteria greater access to your body and vital organs. Internal SSIs can lead to septicemia, organ failure, low blood pressure, and even death.

Can SSIs be prevented?

Yes, SSIs are preventable. Proper cleanliness and sanitation procedures are standard practice in all U.S. medical facilities, and doctors and nurses strive to keep their hospitals and offices as germ-free as possible. However, sometimes mistakes are made and infections can occur.

There is some evidence that contaminated Forced Air Warming systems used in operating rooms nationwide cause wound contamination and may increase the risk of SSIs, which they were designed to prevent. When rising, dirty hot air escapes from the devices and interferes with the Laminar Flow system that blows purified air over the surgical site. Bacteria can be deposited into the incision site. Even worse, many of the hot air blowers are internally contaminated with germs and blow millions of germ-sized particles in the operating room each hour.

What are my legal options in the case of a SSI?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to sue the hospital or forced-air warming manufacturer for your injury. The experienced injury lawyers of Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P in Houston will help you build your legal case and recover compensation you deserve if you have acquired a serious infection due to negligence.

To schedule a free consultation with our Houston medical injury lawyers, please contact Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P today.