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A surgical site infection can be serious

Thousands of Pittsburgh residents will undergo surgery this year. These surgeries are medically necessary for many people and will hopefully bring them a better quality of life. One unexpected outcome of a surgery is a surgical site infection that can lead to a worsened condition, extended hospital stay and even death.

A surgical site infection can cause serious complications in a patient. After a patient has emerged from surgery there are signs that should be watched for that can indicate there is a problem. These warning signs include swelling and pain, pus draining or a bad smell at the surgical site. Red lines may also be seen coming from the site or the patient may have a fever. Any of these symptoms can indicate there is an infection.

A surgical site infection is diagnosed using a blood test which can show there is an infection. Or a sample of the wound can be obtained which can show what type of infection is present. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound may also be used to show the cause of infection. Once it is determined that the patient is suffering from an infection, proper medication can be administered, the wound can be cleaned and disinfected, among other treatments.

If a surgical site infection is not treated promptly serious consequences can occur for patients. If the infection is caused by a surgical error the medical professional can be held accountable. Compensation may be available for unexpected medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “FAQs about surgical site infections,” accessed on Jan. 20, 2015