Surgical Wound Infections

Although the majority of surgical procedures are performed successfully and without incident, some patients can actually develop an internal infection during or after the procedure. Surgeons take extreme precautions to prevent contamination of body tissues during an operation, but in some cases the patient may be exposed to bacteria, fungus, mold or other agents that can lead to severe complications.

Improper Sterilization Of Equipment

This is the cause of many infections during a surgical procedure. Contaminated equipment could contain bacteria, or the handling of sensitive equipment by personnel who have not washed properly can lead to the introduction of infectious agents. Sometimes the sterilization process itself is incomplete or is handled by those who do not follow the instructions for sanitization to the letter. Anything that can breed a population of bacteria, such as soiled bedding, towels or blood must be removed from the area, otherwise it can lead to cross-contamination of other articles such as knives, scalpels or needles.

Weakened Immune System

Many patients are already in a weakened state with regards to their ability to fight off infections. Their existing condition in combination with certain drugs or antibiotics can actually lead to a higher probability of infections, especially those which are resistant to the antibiotics already being administered. Depending on the health condition of the patient, many surgical procedures that are performed can involve introducing a tiny amount of bacteria to a sensitive area, and the patient is unable to counter with antibodies or white blood cells because of his or her compromised immune system.

Post-Operative Contamination

After a surgery the patient often has areas that were recently open to the outside atmosphere. Even after stitching, the likelihood of infection is vastly increased if this area is contaminated during the changing of bandages. The tissue surrounding the areas where surgery was performed are especially vulnerable to infection if the dressing or bandage itself is not clean.

Spread Of General Infection

A general infection usually enters the body via the bloodstream, and can happen if the intravenous procedure is carried out with unsterilized equipment or if the fluid being introduced is itself contaminated. This type of infection will quickly spread throughout the body and enter the lymphatic fluids, and the patient may not be able to fight off the antigens present. Blood poisoning is very dangerous and unless the infectious agent is identified quickly, this condition can result in fevers, major swelling, decreased blood pressure and even cause damage to the brain.

Deaths by blood poisoning are rare, but they do occur in some cases where the patient was infected through the use of dirty needles, unsanitized blood transfusion equipment or bacteria present on the scalpels. Any bacteria or fungus present in catheters inserted into the body’s openings can also lead to a transmission of unwanted agents into the bloodstream or lymphatic system.