Post-Surgery Infections a…

Up until the past few decades, surgery in the United States took place only in hospitals. For this reason, hospitals are required to track and report data for certain hospital-based infection. Those hospitals that don't appropriately track this information and follow up with patients risk losing federal reimbursement for certain procedures covered by Medicare.

But in recent years, an increasing number of surgeries have been taking place in outpatient ambulatory surgery centers. These centers have a number of advantages: being smaller, they are often more comfortable for patients and families, wait times may be shorter, and staff may offer more personal attention.

Ambulatory surgery centers offer everything from colonoscopies to cataract surgery. With more than five thousand such centers in the U.S., they are obviously growing in popularity. If you are contemplating surgery at an outpatient surgical centers, however, you should be aware that unlike hospitals, they are not required to track data about post-surgical infections.

Do Ambulatory Surgery Centers Have More Post-Surgery Infections?

It's important to note a couple of things: first of all, that the vast majority of procedures performed at ambulatory surgery centers go off without a hitch, and second, that not all post-surgical infections are the result of negligence or medical malpractice on the part of the surgical facility. Poor post-surgical wound care on the patient's part, for instance, can lead to severe infection even if the surgical facility did everything perfectly.

That said, however, there are reasons to be concerned about the risk of post-surgery infection in an ambulatory surgery center. First and foremost, the lack of data tracking about such infections means that if there is an ongoing problem with how the facility prevents infection, patterns of risky behavior are more likely to be missed. Second, while those surgery centers that accept Medicare are required to have a staff member whose responsibility it is to prevent infection, that person may have minimal training. Third, the variety and complexity of surgeries handled at these outpatient facilities are on the increase, opening the door to complications.

While infection experts have been working for decades in hospital settings to minimize infections associated with health care, that long track record does not exist in outpatient surgical centers. So the problem of post-surgical infections in such centers may be greater than previously suspected, and growing.

If You Developed an Infection Following Outpatient Surgery in Oregon

Common symptoms of surgical site infections (SSIs) include redness, tenderness and pain at or near the surgical site; fever; and pus or cloudy drainage from the site. There are things that your surgery center staff should have done in order to prevent an SSI, including:

  • Thoroughly scrubbing their hands and arms up to the elbows with an antiseptic agent immediately before surgery;
  • Wearing hair covers, gloves, masks and gowns designed to keep the surgical area clean;
  • Cleaning the skin at your surgery site with an antiseptic soap;
  • If your surgery was in a site where you had body hair, removing hair just before surgery using electric clippers, not a razor;
  • Administering antibiotics appropriately before and after surgery;
  • Cleaning hands thoroughly between caring for patients, either by using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser;
  • Instructing you as to proper wound care at home.

If you suspect you were not cared for properly, and that you developed an infection as a result, you may want to contact an experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can help gather evidence to assist you in deciding whether it's worthwhile to pursue a medical malpractice case against your ambulatory surgery center.

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