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Abels & Annes, P.C. Personal Injury Blog

Infections Continue to be the Leading Cause of Hospital Readmissions

At some point in their lives, the majority of Americans will seek medical treatment in a hospital or an emergency room. Whether it is for unexpected treatment following an accident, a scheduled surgery, or the birth of a child, a hospital can change someone’s life forever. In an ideal situation, those who seek help would be met with superior care and will leave the hospital in a healthy state. But at other times, problems arise either during a hospital stay or after a patient leaves that can turn threatening or even tragic in a moment.

if you are a hospital patient, be aware that the most common reason for readmission after a hospital discharge continues to be infections at surgical sites. In fact, a 2012 study revealed that 26 percent of all readmission were related to infections, by far the largest complication that was measured in that study.

Questions continue to surround the causes behind these surgical site infections and what can be done to prevent them from occurring, but experts agree that certain considerations should be reviewed by all surgeons.

At this time, the majority of surgical site infections are believed to be acquired during a surgery itself. For that reason, it is critically important that every member of a surgical staff take every precaution necessary prior to and during surgery to ensure the safety of the patient. Every tool used in an operating room must be sterilized prior to use but sterilization goes far beyond that. Recent studies reveal that strains of bacteria in post-operative surgical incisions match strains carried on the hands of the surgeons involved which indicates a failure of a sterile barrier between doctor and patient. It also can indicate an inefficient pre-surgery scrub by the surgeon and/or a low quality of surgical glove that allows permeation of bacteria. Other issues can arise when those on the surgical team are ill or sick themselves during surgery or when known infections are spreading through a hospital.

The four main areas in which action can be taken to improve the sterility of an operating room and decrease the odds that a patient will acquire an infection are surgical hand preparation, appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis, postponing an elective operation in the face of a remote infection, and potentially hair clipping prior to surgery, though the effectiveness of hair clipping is now debated.

The causes of surgical site infections and the best steps to take to prevent them all have one major thing in common – they are beyond the control of any patient. This means that those who undergo surgical procedures cannot control whether their physicians act appropriately and put sanitary concerns at the forefront of their actions. With this in mind, the legislature in Arizona has recognized that victims of this type of medical malpractice should not be forced to bear the financial burden caused by the negligent actions of a surgeon if those actions lead to an infection.

If you have questions about your legal options and whether you have a claim for injuries you sustained, call the personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191 and let one of our attorneys provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation.

Prior Blog Entry:

Bicycle Helmet Use Surprising Low, Riders Placed at Risk for Injuries, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 6, 2015.

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