What Causes Surgical Site Infections?

Surgical site infections, or SSIs, are a growing problem in the United States. Of the 30 million surgical procedures performed each year in the U.S., more than 2.5% lead to infection. That means that over 750,000 people suffer from these dangerous infections each year, and around 20,000 die as a result. Statistics don't tell the whole story, though.

If you or a loved one has experienced a surgical site infection, you know that it can be scary, painful, and difficult to cure. When you get an infection in your surgical wound, your risk of dying at least doubles and the average hospitalization time increases by two weeks. Needless to say, you expect the doctors and hospital staff to do everything they can to reduce the risk of SSIs for you or your loved one.

However, not all hospitals do this effectively. In some hospitals, the infection rate is twice the national average. This means not only a more dangerous environment for patients, but increased costs for the entire health care system. SSIs can more than double a patient's hospital costs. Staphylococcus aureus infections are especially costly. According to a recent nationwide study, patients with Staph infections incur hospital costs amounting to more than triple the average hospital costs of other patients.

So what actually causes these dangerous and costly infections? The simple answer is bacteria. Surgery leaves your body vulnerable to attack by infectious bacteria because of the break in the skin at the incision site, and because the stress of surgery on your body's immune system. This is especially true when a foreign material, such as an orthopedic prosthesis, is implanted. Even a small number of bacteria can cause severe infection, requiring removal of the implant to treat the infection.

New Factors in the Rise of SSIs

One frightening trend in SSI cases is the rise of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), an infectious strain of bacteria that does not respond to treatment with typical antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics in hospitals has allowed this strain to develop resistance to the normal, broad-spectrum antibiotics. While Vancomycin is still somewhat effective against MRSA, an infection of this strain can be potentially life-threatening.

Other factors in the surgery and post-operative environment can increase the risk of infection as well. Studies are now showing that Forced Air Warming (FAW) systems, originally designed to reduce infections in the operating room by keeping the patient warm, may actually increase the risk of infection. The hot air generated by FAW systems disrupts the downward flow of purified air from Laminar Flow systems used in ultra-clean surgeries. Some FAW systems are internally contaminated and actually blow millions of germ-sized particles into the surgical field.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a surgical site Infection, you know it can make surgery an even more dangerous and frightening experience than before. The pain of an infected surgical site can be overwhelming, and the extra hospitalization can have a huge financial impact on the families of SSI victims.

Fortunately, you have legal options in the event of SSI. Our experienced personal injury lawyers at Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. No one should have to go through the pain of an SSI alone, and we will be at your side to hold the responsible parties accountable for your suffering and lost wages.

To schedule your legal consultation about SSI injury with Houston personal injury lawyers, please contact Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P today.