Infection Following C-Sections
If a pregnant woman cannot have a vaginal birth due to complications that threaten the mother or her child, her doctor will recommend a Cesarean section, also known as a C-section. This permits the doctor to remove the baby directly from the uterus. Even under the strictest sterile conditions, an infection can still occur.
Cesarean sections are invasive major surgeries that have their own set of risks. Patients who have a planned C-section are less likely to develop serious infections than those patients who have emergency surgery. To lower the risk of infection, patients should follow their physician’s recommendations. If you or a loved one has acquired a C-section infection and suspect medical negligence, speak with a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer experienced in hospital-acquired infections.
What Causes C-Section Infections?
Bacteria cause the toxic condition known as septicemia, or sepsis, which invades the bloodstream. There is a greater chance for sepsis when the Cesarean wound remains open. Mothers who resume their normal activities too early after their surgery may be at risk for sepsis. It’s very important to allow yourself time to heal. Don’t push recovery. If you do, you could prolong your recuperation for months.
The symptoms of sepsis are easy to spot. If you experience any of these conditions, you should call your doctor immediately:
- Pain that continues to increase
- An oozing of fluid from the incision
- A splitting of the incision
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Difficulty urinating
- Cloudy or unusual smelling urine
- High blood pressure
- Flu-like symptoms, including rapid breathing, chills, and elevated heart rate
If the condition worsens, the patient can go into septic shock. Septic shock is characterized by low blood pressure, confusion, hypothermia and blood clotting problems. Septic shock demands immediate medical treatment.
Complications from Emergency C-Sections
Complications can also occur with an unplanned C-section. One out of five women who have emergency C-sections suffers endometritis, which is an infection of the uterus. Here are some further complications that might develop:
- Bladder damage
- Blood clots surrounding the uterus
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Blood clots in the leg veins
Endometritis can be prevented if the doctor administers repeated doses of antibiotics via intravenous drip after the birth of the baby. This reduces the likelihood of uterine infection by 50 percent. Patients normally remain hospitalized for four days after a Cesarean section. Usually, an infection will occur within two days. If an operative injury becomes infected, the physician should proactively treat the wound to halt the infection. Infections can occur due to many conditions, including a cut to the bowel, bladder or ureter. Less serious infections from a C-section include urinary tract infections (UTI), bladder infections or an infection at the site of the spinal block, also called the epidural. If you are fearful that you’re becoming infected, you might want to consult an infectious disease specialist who will run additional blood tests and cultures to see if excess bacteria are present. You can also seek a second opinion from another OB/GYN. If a septic infection continues, it can cause critical problems, such as loss of fertility, loss of feeling or even loss of life.
Other Types of Infection
Sepsis isn’t the only type of infection that can occur after a C-section.
Cellulitis happens when common skin bacteria invade the tissue beneath the skin at the site of your surgery.
Hospital-acquired pseudomonas, which cause a greenish discharge, can also get inside your incision. Frequently, they are resistant to singular antibiotics, so pseudomonas must be treated with two or more antibiotics at once. In severe cases, the entire infected area has to be removed.
Antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli can also infect your laceration. E. coli is usually treated with stronger antibiotics. Signs of an E. coli infection include diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms.
If you suffered an infection after a Cesarean section, contact a Philadelphia hospital infection attorney for the best legal advice. A qualified lawyer can tell you if you have grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit.