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Recognizing the signs and symptoms of post-surgical sepsis

Every year, many clients come to us here at the offices of DeLuca and Weizenbaum, Ltd with complications stemming from surgical treatment. Patients in Providence agree to such treatment under the assumption that it will end any pain and suffering that they’re currently going through, or help to avoid problems in the future. Yet the mere act of surgery can also present a great risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cases of post-surgical infection account for 31 percent of all hospital-acquired infections. Of these infections, post-surgical sepsis is among the most dangerous. In this post, we’ll examine the potential causes of this problem, as well as its signs and symptoms.

Sepsis is commonly referred to as blood poisoning. It occurs when harmful bacteria and their accompanying toxins are present in the blood stream. It typically originates in tissues, often as the result of a surgical site infection. These infections can happen for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Failure to administer the proper pre-operative antibiotics
  • An unsterilized surgical site or the use of unsterilized instruments
  • Surgical equipment (i.e., scalpels, sponges) left inside the body

If left undiagnosed or untreated, sepsis can lead to septic shock, which can be fatal.

The signs and symptoms of sepsis are fever, labored breathing, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hypotension (low blood pressure), and possibly an altered mental state. Patients who’ve recently had surgery should look for signs of infection at their surgical sites, and seek immediate treatment if they appear. Such signs will usually be pain or redness at the surgical site, or a discharge from the incision.

For more information on post-surgical complications, visit our Surgical Error page. 

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Providence Personal Injury Office

199 North Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

Toll Free: 888-876-9415
Phone: 401-354-7233
Fax: 401-453-1501
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