Postoperative Care: Key Steps Your Care Team Must Follow

Care Team of Two Providing Postoperative Care to Man

A surgical procedure requires a deep trust between a patient and their care team at every stage of the process. From initial preparation to the completion of the procedure, patients place their lives in the hands of doctors and depend on them for observation after the procedure is complete. Postoperative care is an essential aspect of any surgical procedure, and there may come a time where a doctor’s negligence impacts your overall care and recovery.

As medical malpractice attorneys in St. Louis, we are here to support and guide you as you file a claim for the negligence you experienced.

What is Postoperative Care?

Postoperative care is the treatment and observation you receive following a surgical procedure such as a c-section, heart surgery or other operation where you are under anesthesia. Your care team begins this process as soon as your procedure is over, and it will end when your doctor decides you have made a complete recovery.

Postoperative medical negligence occurs if an issue or complication arises following your surgery. Typically, these cases will be caused by a doctor’s failure to follow up, failure to diagnose or failure to practice the standard of care.

What is my doctor and care team’s role? 

Following surgery, your doctor and those who serve in their care team must monitor your recovery. There are two types of surgery that have two different postoperative procedures: outpatient surgery and in-patient surgery. Outpatient procedures usually have a same-day discharge from medical care unless you show signs of a postoperative problem. In-patient requires at least one day or more of hospital care before you can be discharged.

Regardless of your surgery classification, your doctor has a duty to care for you after the completion of your surgery and until your care plan is complete.

What are the common postoperative care errors I should be aware of? 

Surgery takes a physical toll on your body, and consistent postoperative care is imperative to preventing infection or other serious complications. Common medical malpractice errors following surgery include:

  • Failure to monitor vitals;
  • Failure to order or analyze test results;
  • Failure to treat;
  • Failure to offer a sterile environment;
  • Inappropriate or inaccurate distribution of medication;
  • Failure to instruct on proper at-home care;
  • Failure to clean the surgical site or change bandages; or
  • Failure to check or address signs of infection.

If you believe you have experienced any of the above malpractice errors, you may be entitled to compensation. It is best to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options.

What complications can result from poor postoperative care

There are three major complications that may arise due to poor postoperative care, and they include:

  1. Blood Clots. Many surgeries require a patient to lay in a certain position for extended periods of time. If the body is not rotated, cleaned or stretched with guidance from a physical therapist, it may result in blood clots. Oftentimes, care teams will distribute compression stockings, specific medications such as blood thinners and/or physical therapy to reduce the risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  2. Infection. Because the body is weakened following surgery, the risk for infection is much higher. Your healthcare provider should be monitoring your progress consistently by observing your vital signs, conducting relevant tests and following proper sanitation protocols, such as wound cleaning, bandage changes and checking incision sites. If your doctor does not check regularly, infection or in extreme cases, sepsis, is more likely to set in and your recovery may take a drastic turn due to their negligence.
  3. Bleeding. Because your surgical procedure likely required some type of incision to be made, it is important for the post-operative recovery care team to monitor you for bleeding. This may include more frequent vital signs, assessments, lab tests and viewing of the incisional site prior to discharge. If your care team does not properly monitor for bleeding, you could suffer severe injuries from the blood loss.

Is it time to contact an attorney? 

Postoperative care is a required step in every surgical procedure. If you or a loved one fell victim to postoperative malpractice, our experienced surgical error attorneys are here to help you navigate the next step in your claim process. Whether you are a former patient in need of an attorney or in need of a legal team to help co-counsel on a complex surgical error case, contact our office for a consultation.

Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact our legal team right away. Waiting to seek legal representation can prevent you from filing a claim and receiving the compensation you deserve.

Contact Zevan Murphy today.

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