“After my operation the wound became infected and I was in intensive care.”
Infection is a risk involved in all medical procedures – but medical staff have a duty of care to limit the risks as far as reasonably possible, as well as recognising and treating wound infections appropriately.
Deep wound infection which does not respond to antibiotics needs to be treated sooner rather than later – and hospitals must practice good hygiene, with staff making sure they wash their hands between patients or use antibacterial gel to make sure cross-infection risk is minimised.
Inflammation round a wound is generally a good sign, as it slows blood circulation round the wound and enables healing white blood cells to flood the area and get rid of bacteria.
While all wounds look red and inflamed after surgery, nursing staff must be able to recognise the difference between normal inflammation and signs of infection.
Some wounds may develop what is called necrotic tissue – literally “dead” tissue; but not even darkening of the skin round a wound (necrotic tissue can turn black) means a wound is infected.
Antibiotic resistant hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA have in the past hit the headlines – but Streptococcus A bacterial infections often cause abscesses and infected surgical wounds.
Streptococcus A occurs naturally on the skin, but Strep A infections are serious if they are invasive – and can be fatal.
Laboratory tests are normally used to diagnose whether a wound has a bacterial or fungal infection, involving a swab test or fine needle aspiration of any fluid in the wound collected for testing.
In cases involving deep wound infection, X-rays or an ultrasound scan may also be needed to detect fluid or pus in the wound and assess any tissue damage. A tissue biopsy may also be needed.
Failure to test for infected wounds and diagnose the microorganism causing an infected wound can mean that the infection can spread to other organs and even cause sepsis (blood poisoning), which is a life-threatening condition.
In some patients – including the elderly and those with diabetes – the usual signs of infection (swelling, pain and the wound feeling hot) may not be obvious, so diagnosing an infected wound at an early stage is vital.
Failing to diagnose an infected wound can have serious consequences for a patient if the infection spreads, including scarring and disfigurement, amputation, brain injury (brain abscess) and even death.
Patients who have suffered further injury as a result of negligent wound care have three years from the date of injury or diagnosis of injury in which to make a no win no fee infected wound claim.
Children who have suffered injury as a result of infected wounds after surgery can make a claim for compensation up to the age of 21.
Duncan Lewis can also advise on claims involving wounds caused by injury, accident or trauma which were not properly treated by medical staff (eg dog bite or knife wound which was not correctly treated and became infected).
In cases where a patient suffered catastrophic injury or fatal injury as a result of an infected wound, Duncan Lewis can advise on making a n win no fee Serious Injury claim, as well as advising bereaved families on making a no win no fee Fatal Injuries Claim.
Duncan Lewis clinical negligence solicitors are one of the UK’s leading no win no fee law firms and can advise both NHS patients and private patients who have suffered injury as a result of poor wound care on how to make no win no fee Infected Wound Claims.
Because of the limitation period for making infected wound claims, Duncan Lewis advises patients to get in touch as soon as possible to discuss making a compensation claim. The Duncan Lewis clinical negligence team will assess your claim and advise you on the best way forward.
For expert legal advice on no win no fee Infected Wound Claims, call Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence Solicitors on 020 7923 4020.