An infection which occurs after someone has had an operation on a knee can have serious health implications. It’s the job of the medical professionals to stop these sorts of infections occurring in the first place, and quickly treating any infection which does take hold. If they fail to do this, then their actions, or lack of action, could be classed as medical negligence and the patient might be entitled to claim compensation.
What Causes Infection During a Knee Operation?
Any surgical procedure carries a risk of an infection developing at the surgery site. Knee surgery is the same as any other surgery and there are different ways in which the infection might develop. Some patients might already have an infection before an operation, which is only noticeable after the procedure is complete. It is more likely though that an infection is picked up from a member of the hospital staff who are perhaps unaware that they have an infection, or from equipment which has not been sterilised correctly.
Knee surgery poses an extra risk in that there is a large amount of tissue damage involved, and this can increase the chances of contracting an infection.
Patients who get an infection after surgery on their knee might experience one or more of the following:
• Feeling hot and cold or running a temperature
• Unable to bear weight on the knee
If the infection is not diagnoses quickly and progresses, then the following symptoms may be experienced:
• Pus at the site of the wound
• Problems with liver and kidney function
• Breathing difficulties
How Infection is Diagnosed and Treated After an Operation
It is very important that infections after a knee operation are picked up as soon as possible. As an infection spreads and the condition of the patient gets worse, the infection may spread into the joints and this can greatly delay their recovery time.
Medical professionals can diagnose an infection using a combination of medical, laboratory and visual tests. Any symptoms of heat around the wound site, raised temperature or redness should ring alarm bells. A definite diagnosis of infection can be made after a simple blood test which will indicate whether infection is present.
Once a blood test has shown that an infection is present, it should be treated immediately. The exact nature of the treatment will depend on what sort of bacteria are causing the infection. The most normal course of treatment is antibiotics, but sometimes antibiotics on their own are not enough and further surgery may be needed. In some cases a more radical procedure known as surgical debridement to remove the infection in the affected area may be required.
Medical Negligence in Post-Surgical Knee Infection Cases
It is harder to treat an infection in the knee the longer it is left. This can have serious consequences for the patient’s condition. An infection can even cancel out the benefits of having the operation in the first place, and can make the recovery process far longer.
Members of the medical profession who don’t prevent, diagnose or properly treat an infection in a knee after surgery could be guilty of medical negligence. Also, if it can be shown that the infection was passed to the patient in a negligent manner, for example from equipment which was not clean, this could also be grounds for a claim. Victims of medical negligence can claim for both any pain and suffering which the infection caused, and any financial losses caused by the infection such as loss of earnings and the cost of any additional medical treatment.