Infection nearly kills, disables patient after routine surgery

During and after any surgical procedure in Chicago, there is the possibility of infection. Infections can be minor or serious, but infections contracted during a hospital visit or from a surgery are almost always preventable.

By simply making sure to properly sanitize medical equipment, an incision site on a patient, and washing their hands, Chicago doctors and hospitals can greatly improve the chances that a patient will walk away from surgery without an infection. Sometimes, however, a properly sanitized procedure may still result in a serious infection due to a critical surgical error made by a doctor. Infections caused by surgical errors could certainly result in patients suffering short-term health complications, but when an infection is not treated immediately, the damages could be permanent.

In a recent medical malpractice case, a 46-year-old woman underwent a routine surgery for the removal of an ovarian cyst. This operation is considered minimally invasive and is done on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients arrive at the hospital, go under the knife, and return home the same day. However, this patient ended up not being able to leave the hospital until six months later with no hands or feet.

The surgeon, according to the patient’s lawsuit, accidentally made an incision in the woman’s small intestine while removing the cyst. This released lethal bacteria that, when at large in the body, causes a disease called necrotizing fasciitis. But after the surgical error had been made, the lawsuit states that the doctor allegedly sewed the patient back up without noticing his mistake. This caused the infection to spread, resulting in permanent damage to once healthy tissues and organs.

The woman now requires permanent medical care to help with basic functions. She can no longer return to her job as an analyst with the Department of Defense, as she spends most of her time learning how to use her prosthetic limbs after having her feet and hands amputated. She has filed suit against both her surgeon and the hospital at which he is employed. She is hoping to recover at least $40 million in damages to help pay for her current and future medical bills, lost wages and other expenses resulting from the surgeon’s terrible mistake.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “After outpatient surgery, flesh-eating bacteria leads to patient losing her hands and feet,” Stephen Nohlgren, June 22, 2012

Surgical Errors


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