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Ambulatory surgery: the risks of post-procedure infections

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2014 | Surgical Errors

Medical malpractice acts and omissions cover a broad gamut of possibilities in New Jersey hospitals and other medical facilities across the country.

The usual list of suspects centrally includes things like misdiagnosis (failure to properly or timely diagnose), medication errors, mistakes made in electronic health records and birth injuries caused by medical negligence.

Another common culprit: surgical errors that lead to hospital-acquired infections.

Patient infections are indeed a big problem in American hospitals, and of a dimension that is revealed as instantly alarming through presentation of relevant statistics. Infections acquired in-house can be sourced back to many things, including lack of proper hygiene exercised by medical professionals and surgical errors.

According to data appearing in the American Journal of Infection Control in 2009, surgical-site infections suffered by patients in the United States required about 91,000 readmissions to hospitals for treatment, entailing medical costs of more than $900 million.

A recent study addressed an aspect of surgical-site infections not often looked at, namely, infections occurring after the completion of outpatient procedures.

As it true with many medically related statistics, the relevant numbers regarding such infections can be interpreted in two ways.

On the one hand, they might strike some readers as being reasonably low, with researchers finding that only about three of every 1,000 outpatients developed an infection following surgery.

On the other hand, though, extrapolation of those numbers outward in a manner that considers the scores of thousands of outpatient surgeries performed every day in the United States reveals an absolute number that many readers might find sobering, if not shocking.

The bottom line, as noted by a study author, is that, “Serious infections following ambulatory surgery do occur.”

Given that, follow-up surgical care needs to pay especially close attention to that possibility.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Surgical site infections after outpatient surgery rare, but still a risk, study finds,” Sabriya Rice, Feb. 21, 2014

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