The way to handle infection cases is very interesting. If you can show the operation was not indicated, then any complication from that unnecessary operation is a negligent act. Secondly, was the patient at higher risk for the operation? Were prophylactic antibiotics not given prior to, during and after surgery? Was the patient not timely seen with proper consultation and treatment for infection? In most large cities and/or teaching centers, there are specialists who do practically nothing else but consult and treat infections. Were there infections on or in the patient’s body at the time of an elective operation? If so, the surgery should have been postponed. Was the patient placed into a room before or after surgery where infected patients were located? This doesn’t always mean there’s a higher risk, but it’s good jury appeal.
Did the hospital have infectious disease control procedures? All hospitals are required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals to have such procedures. Did they investigate all other infections which were ongoing, to try to find the source of infection to minimize the risk? Was there a mini-epidemic of infections at the time that patient was admitted to the hospital? If so, and if it’s elective surgery, the patient should not have been operated on. If it was an urgent situation, he should have been put in another hospital. Did he come down with the same infection as the epidemic type? You can subpoena the infectious disease control records, which the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals requires the hospital keep. What was the source of the infection? The hospital won’t give you the names of the patients but will tell you what germ was present, where the other infected patients were located in the hospital, their diagnoses, and if it was the same as this patient’s germ. Did the operating room nurse have an infected throat? Did the surgeon or his assistants have an infection?
Did his patients have a higher infection rate compared to other doctors at the hospital? Was the patient not advised of that? How were these infections investigated (if at all), what were the findings, and what was done to prevent your client’s infection?
Even though infection cases are somewhat difficult, if you approach it in the right way, i.e.: unnecessary operation, lack of proper informed consent, failure to use conservative therapy, not minimizing the risk of using prophylactic antibiotics in certain circumstances, not investigating the causes of other infections at the time, putting a patient into a room with infected patients, not following up on this patient’s infection, not recognizing it timely, not getting the culture for germs, not using intensive antibiotics, not opening up the wound on time to get good drainage, not removing diseased flesh, and not removing implanted artificial materials: there are ways to prove and win infection cases. It depends on the facts of the case and how the care was rendered.