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What are surgical site infections and why are they serious?

A patient who is having surgery done is usually given information about the aftercare process. Part of that process usually involves having the surgical site checked for signs of healing, as well as signs of infection. Medical staff members and patients must keep a watchful eye out for surgical site infections because these infections can be very serious.

What are the symptoms of a surgical site infection?

Surgical site infections usually occur within 30 days of the surgical procedure. The primary symptoms of a surgical site infection include pain, redness, warmth, fever, slowed healing, tenderness, and swelling around the surgical site. In some cases, pus or drainage might occur, and the wound might open on its own. If the infection occurs within a body cavity or organ, an abscess might occur.

What are the types of surgical site infections?

There are three types of surgical site infections, which are determined by the location that is affected. The three types are organ or space, deep incisional and superficial incisional.

Organ or space surgical site infections occur in areas of the body that don't include the skin, the tissue surrounding the muscle that was part of the surgery, or the muscle. Deep incisional surgical site infections involve the muscle or tissues surrounding the muscles below the incision. Superficial incisional surgical site infections affect the skin surrounding the incision.

Why are surgical site infections so serious?

Some of these infections can be treated using antibiotics. However, some might be resistant to antibiotics. When the infection is resistant to infection, it can be difficult to treat. Severe infections might require surgical intervention or prolonged hospital stays.

The effects that these infections can have on your life are serious. You might be unable to work at a time when you have increased medical care costs. Seeking compensation is an option if medical team members can be held liable for the infection.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Surgical Site Infections," accessed Oct. 15, 2015

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