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Never Event #7: Surgical Site Infection

According to the the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 2.6% of the the 30 million operations performed each year are accompanied by a postoperative infection.  Certain procedures account for a higher number of infections—some procedures have infection rates of up to 11%.

Never Events: Surgical Site InfectionThere are essentially two types of incisional infections.  Superficial infections involved infection on the skin surface and the subcutaneous tissue.  Deep incisional infections affect the deep tissue muscle and fascia.  Deep incisional infections are the most serious and have a higher death rate than an infection on the skin’s surface.  Nonetheless, infections on the skin’s surface must be timely treated to avoid the infection from spreading.

Surgical site infections result from endogenous (from the patient’s own body) and exogenous sources (dirty surgical materials).  Infections that derive from the patient’s body are more common. The three most common infection causing microorganisms that reside on the patient’s body are: Staphylococcus aureus, Coagulase negative staphylococcus and enterococcus.

Why are surgical site infections on the ‘never list‘?

Surgical site infections are on the ‘never list‘ for several reasons.  There are multiple preoperative and intraoperative preventative measures that can significantly reduce if not eliminate surgical site infections.  Many of these preventative measures involve scientific principals proven over the last 50 years, yet some hospitals and physicians continually fail to implement them on a regular basis.

Preoperative Causes Of Infectionincision

  • Inappropriate administration of antibiotics
  • Inadequate sterilization of skin
  • Infection in remote area not treated prior to surgery
  • Shaving vs. clipping hair

Introperative Causes Of Infection

  • Long duration of surgery
  • Improper surgical team hand preparation
  • Dirty surgical environment- equipment, ventilation, surgical tools
  • Improper surgical technique: hemostatis, foreign bodies

If you have experienced extended illness or injury that is related to a surgical site infection, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, disability, pain and suffering and lost wages. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn your rights.

Resource: Center For Disease Control- Preventing Surgical Site Infections: A Surgeon’s Perspective

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