Infections After Knee Surgery – Medical Negligence?

Developing an infection after an operation on your knee can potentially be extremely serious. Consequences can range from fever and pain through to organ failure or even amputation. Doctors and nurses should do everything they can to stop this from happening, and quickly spot and give treatment if an infection does occur. If they fail to do this, their actions could mount to medical negligence and you may be entitled to claim compensation.

How Infections Occur After Knee Surgery

Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection, and knee surgery is no different. There are several different ways in which an infection could develop. Sometimes, a patient already has an infection before the operation which only becomes obvious after the procedure is carried out. It is more common though for a patient to pick up an infection from the hospital, either passed direct from a member of the hospital staff who themselves has an infection, or from equipment which has not been sterilised properly.

There is an extra risk with surgery on the knee as this type of surgery involves significant tissue damage and increases the chance of an infection getting into the body.

Symptoms of Infection After Surgery

People who are suffering from an infection after having their knee operated on might experience some or all of the following symptoms:

•    Discomfort
•    Stiffness in the knee
•    Fever and/or feeling alternately hot and cold
•    The knee might feel warm to the touch or look red

If the infection is left untreated, the patient may start to experience more severe symptoms such as:

•    Breathing difficulties
•    Liver and kidney function problems
•    Visible pus at the site of the operation scar

Treating Infection After A Knee Operation

It is essential that any infection after a knee surgery operation is picked up as soon as possible. This is because the patient’s condition will deteriorate as the infection spreads, and their recovery time will be increased significantly.

Medical professionals should be able to diagnose infection using a mixture of visual, clinical and laboratory tests. A patient with redness, fever or warmth around the site of the wound should be investigated urgently. The condition can then be confirmed using a simple blood test which will show any infection.

No time should be lost in treating any infection once it has been diagnosed, and the type of treatment will depend on the sort of bacteria which are causing the infection. The most common type of treatment is with antibiotics, and the knee will have to be cleaned out regularly. In a few cases, antibiotics on their own are not enough, and the patient will have to undergo another operation. This is only the case when the in infection is severe enough to need the affected area removed. This operation is known as surgical debridement.

Medical Negligence and Knee Infections

Infections which are caught quickly are much easier to treat. An infection which is left for longer can have a serious impact on the patient’s condition, and as well as meaning an extended recovery period, it can even cancel out the benefits of having the surgery at all.

Medical professionals who don’t prevent, diagnose or treat a knee infection after a surgical procedure might well be guilty of medical negligence. Furthermore, if it can be shown that the infection was passed on negligently (for example from equipment which was not sterile), then this could also be grounds for a claim. Compensation can be claimed for pain and suffering caused by the infection, as well as any financial losses which have been incurred, such as the cost of further medical procedures or loss of earnings.

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