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Outpatient surgery can lead to painful surgical site infections

It is common for people who are about to go in for surgery to be nervous. Who wouldn’t be nervous? Surgery is inherently a scary prospect, as someone performs a procedure that is intended to help you — but a mistake could cause immeasurable harm. Consoling and reassuring a nervous surgery patient that their procedure will go well happens all the time, and for the most part, this sentiment is true. However, complications from surgery do occur (just like surgical errors themselves), and they can cause a patient a lot of pain.

According to a recent study about outpatient surgery (surgery that doesn’t require a patient to remain in a hospital overnight), roughly 0.5 percent of more than 284,000 outpatient procedures resulted in the patient suffering a surgery site infection. The sample procedures were taken from eight states, of which Kentucky was not included — but the size of the study certainly establishes a figure that would likely be the expected rate for most states.

Outpatient surgery is a very common procedure in the United States, making this new study especially important. But what about inpatient surgery? Well, another study provided a glimpse into how costly it can be when inpatient surgeries go wrong. This other study found that 400,000 additional days were spent in the hospital by inpatient surgery recipients who suffered infections as a result of the surgery. The costs for these complications equaled $900 million.

It’s no surprise that surgical errors are costly, both in financial and personal terms. However, that scope may be larger than most people expect. Anyone who has been affected by a surgical error should consult with an attorney to see if their case warrants a medical malpractice suit.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Surgical site infections after outpatient surgery rare, but still a risk, study finds,” Sabriya Rice, Feb. 21, 2014