Around 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year in the United States, making it one of the most common surgeries for women, second only to Cesarean section. In fact, 1 in 3 American women can expect to have a hysterectomy by the time they turn 60. While this procedure is widespread and typically goes according to plan, it’s not without risk.
Hysterectomy is a type of surgery in which a woman’s uterus is removed, sometimes along with the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and/or cervix. There are numerous reasons why a woman may choose to have a hysterectomy. Doctors routinely recommend them as a treatment option for uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, gynecological cancers, chronic pelvic pain, and other conditions.
While most hysterectomy procedures go well and patients recover without further complications, that’s not always the case. One of the most common complications after hysterectomy is infection. Antibiotics are typically given before surgery as a preventative measure. However, the risk of developing an infection can still range from 9 to 13 percent, depending on the surgical procedure performed.
Infections are one of the most common reasons for unplanned hospital readmissions after hysterectomy, but the site of infection can vary from patient to patient. Infections can occur in the abdominal wall, the vaginal cuff (where the cervix used to be if it was removed), the bladder, the pelvic floor, or at the incision site.
Most infections are detected early and treated appropriately, but that’s not always the case. When an infection goes unnoticed or untreated for any length of time, the results can be catastrophic.
While most women are counseled about signs of infection to watch for, some doctors ignore their complaints or claim that their symptoms are “normal,” particularly when the primary symptom is pain. Infections can develop from days to weeks after the surgery.
Common signs of infection include:
When a clinician ignores a patient’s complaints or accuses them of overreacting or exaggerating their symptoms, infections can rapidly progress to pelvic abscesses, sepsis, or even death. While an infection that’s caught early can often be treated successfully at home with antibiotics, more intense treatment is often required if an infection is allowed to progress for any length of time. Severe infections can require readmission to the hospital for IV antibiotics, and some patients will even require another surgery to either drain fluid from the infected site or surgically remove any dead tissue.
All surgical procedures have risks, and hysterectomies are no different. While the risk of developing an infection after surgery is always present, there are certain things that a competent doctor or hospital will do to mitigate the risk. A meticulously clean surgical environment, sterilized tools, and a skilled surgical team are a must. Antibiotics are routinely given prior to surgery as a preventative measure (except in emergency situations), and appropriate follow-up care is essential to catch and treat any infections as soon as possible. When these standard practices and procedures aren’t followed, or when a patient’s complaints are ignored or minimized, the risk of an infection developing and/or becoming deadly is greatly increased.
If you believe that your or your loved one’s infection was caused by or made worse through a doctor’s negligence, then it’s important to get a second opinion as soon as possible. To prove negligence against your doctor, you must show that their behavior and level of care were negligent and that a reasonable, normally skilled physician would have provided better care than your doctor provided. To prove negligence against your hospital, you must be able to show that the hospital’s policies for cleanliness, operating room conditions, or other parts of your care were unreasonably negligent and that any other hospital would have provided a higher level of care.
All of this can be difficult for the average person to prove. Because of this, you must find an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases as soon as possible.
Infections after hysterectomy are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, prolonged hospitalization, hospital readmission, and increased healthcare costs. On top of all this, a serious infection can result in lost wages for the victim and their family members, as well as the added strain of pain and suffering associated with a lengthy recovery process.
If you’ve been a victim of malpractice, the legal team at Ross Feller Casey is ready to fight for you. Our team of Ivy League-trained doctor-lawyers will work to get the medical records and second opinions needed to prove your case. We won’t rest until you and your family are compensated for the suffering you’ve endured at a medical professional’s hands. We have an unmatched record of winning hysterectomy malpractice cases, and we know how to get you the compensation you deserve. There’s no cost unless we make a financial recovery in your case, and consultations are always free, so let us put our experience to work for you.
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