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The world around us is teeming with germs and bacteria. When the skin is broken during an operation, microbes, viruses and bacteria are able to enter the body or a wound and cause a patient to contract an infection such as meningitis, MRSA and septicemia.
There are two common types of surgical site infections:
The signs and symptoms of an infection will depend on the specific infection that someone contracts. However, there are a few red flags that should demand a surgeon or another healthcare professional’s attention:
A superficial infection on the skin might produce pus from the surgical wound, or be tender, painful, swollen or warm to the touch.
Deep surgical infections may cause painful abscesses to form, wounds to reopen or result in inflammation.
The danger of a surgical infection can vary significantly. For some, a minor infection will occur on a superficial surgical wound and heal in a matter of days or weeks. For others, more severe infections may go untreated and have potentially life-altering or fatal consequences.
For instance, during orthopaedic surgery, an infection can present a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of patients. If a prosthetic, such as a hip joint, harbours an infection when it is inserted into the body, this can spread to surrounding tissue and structures and cause pain and discomfort in the days and weeks after an operation. Or an infection may get in and take hold on the prosthesis.
To treat these infections, the prosthesis must be removed from the body and not replaced for several months, to ensure there is no trace of the infection remaining ahead of further surgery. During this time, an individual can be left with extremely limited mobility, requiring aids such as wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
In addition, as there is a limit to the number of these procedures someone can undergo in their lifetime, removing and reinserting a new joint in quick succession may limit a patient’s options for the future.
Other long-term repercussions of surgical infections can include:
An inability to take part in sports and other physical activities
Requirement of specialist aids and equipment around the home
The need to undertake regular physical or psychological therapy
An inability to perform routine tasks such as cooking, cleaning or driving
Limitations to the type of job roles and opportunities they can pursue
Beyond the physical repercussions of surgical infections, the psychological trauma caused could have a huge impact on a person’s mental wellbeing. A patient may suffer PTSD as a result of a near-death experience, or experience a drop in self-esteem if they feel as if they have become a burden on their family and friends.
To minimise the risk of passing on infections during a procedure, there are strict guidelines and protocols in place within hospitals. As well as regularly washing hands and changing PPE, medical professionals are expected to:
Cover open wounds where possible
Disinfect contaminated surfaces and laundry
Follow PPE and hand hygiene procedures
Sanitise objects that have been in contact with an infection
Screen patients before overnight stays or surgical procedures
However, even when these measures are carried out, there is a small chance a patient can still develop an infection. There are several reasons this can happen:
If a healthcare professional fails to carry out appropriate infection control before, during or after your surgery, and these actions or inactions resulted in the contraction of an avoidable infection, this may be grounds to pursue a hospital or doctor negligence case.
However, not every infection will come as a result of clinical oversight. Sometimes there is nothing more that could have been done to prevent a patient from contracting an infection after surgery.
To determine whether medical negligence played a part in the treatment you received, we will work with you to establish the three key elements needed for any successful compensation claim:
A healthcare professional breached their duty of care toward you
You suffered pain and suffering, injury, loss or damage during your treatment
The harm you endured was directly related to the breach of duty
Cases of this nature are often complex, which is why our expert medical negligence solicitors thoroughly investigate all available evidence, such as medical records, witness statements and photographs to get to the bottom of a case.
We will also speak to relevant medical experts, such as infection control nurses and lab technicians, to get their professional opinion on whether you have a valid claim and to quantify the value of your compensation claim.
Our specialist legal advice is offered on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement. This means you will only pay your legal fees if we win your case, with our fees being recovered from the compensation you receive.
As qualified and specialised medical negligence solicitors with over 20 years experience, we are experts at handling surgical infection claim cases.
Our credentials and established reputation mean that hospitals and trusts are willing to work with us, and often recommend us, to seek fair outcomes for claimants to receive the compensation they deserve.
Trust us with your compensation claim and contact us today to see how we can help you.
Due to the breadth of outcomes that can occur following negligent infection control, the value of your settlement will depend on your unique circumstances and how you have been affected in the short and long term.
For someone who has had to take additional leave from work in order to recover, the recompense they receive will cover any loss of earnings. For those left with more permanent and life-changing consequences, the compensation awarded can be used to pay for:
Adaptations around the house
Carers, cleaners or additional support
Psychological and physical therapies
Ongoing mobility equipment
Follow-up surgeries or treatments
Sadly, in some circumstances, an infection contracted following surgery can prove fatal. While no amount of compensation can make up for such a devastating loss, the compensation awarded can ease the financial burden on a family in the weeks, months and years following this tragedy.
Those who may claim after the death of a loved one include:
Those named as beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate in a will or entitled under intestacy law
Those who fall into one of the categories of people entitled to claim a bereavement award under The Fatal Accidents Act 1976
Those who were dependent on the deceased either for services or finances provided to them at the time of death, or had a reasonable expectation that they would become so dependent in the future
To learn how to make a claim following a death by medical negligence, read our insights.
In most circumstances, we would expect a compensation claim of this nature to take 2-5 years to reach final settlement. However, no two cases are the same, and it is impossible to immediately know how long your claim will take to conclude. Several factors can influence this, such as:
The stance taken by the defendants
The availability of relevant medical experts
The need for court proceedings
Entrusting your case to our specialist medical negligence team helps ensure that every step of your claim is handled in an efficient and professional manner. We know who to contact and what is required at each stage to make the process as streamlined as possible.
Like the majority of medical negligence claims, you have a three-year time limit from the date of knowledge to make a claim. There are exceptions to this rule:
Claimants under the age of 18 have until their 21st birthday to claim
Claimants who are considered mentally incapable have no time limit to claim
If a loved one has died due to clinical oversight, their dependents have three years from the date of their death to make a claim, so long as the time limit had not already expired at the date of death.
If the time limit has passed, we would still encourage you to get in touch about your individual circumstance. The Court does have the discretion to allow a claim to be brought beyond this threshold.
We know how devastating it can feel to be let down by a healthcare professional. Whether this has happened to you, or someone you care about, the first step in starting your claim is to get in touch with our team at Gadsby Wicks.
We have decades of experience dealing with cases of this nature, and devote the necessary time and resources to fully investigate your claim. For the best outcome possible we will also work closely with trusted and impartial medical experts.
We offer our legal advice on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
Our law firm has been committed to medical negligence since 1993
Our in-house medical professionals assist with legal cases
If we believe you have a legal case, our specialist surgery claims solicitors will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the closure, compensation and justice you and your family rightly deserve.
If you or a loved one have experienced an infection from surgery and would like to speak to someone about your options, our team is here to listen and advise you on your next steps.