Surgeon ignores red, swollen, oozing knee surgery site, causes dangerous sepsis

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I handle all kinds of medical error and negligence cases both in the Houston area and all over the State of Texas.

Recently, I have been working on a number of cases involving misdiagnosed infections. From my experience in handling many infection cases, it is clear that prompt diagnosis and treatment are the keys to avoiding long-term problems. One of my clients comes to mind immediately as a good example of this.

I represent a middle-aged woman who had a knee replacement surgery at a Sugar Land, Texas area hospital. For about two weeks after the surgery, everything seemed to be going well. Then, she noticed that her knee was getting more painful and there was redness and swelling at the incision site. The patient contacted her surgeon, but he just told her to wait for her scheduled follow-up appointment.

Her pain and swelling got so bad that she went to a Pearland, Texas area emergency room for help. The hospital healthcare providers called her surgeon, who declined to see her and asked that she just show up for her follow-up appointment.

After she was discharged from the hospital, the patient sent a photo showing that her incision site was red, swelling, and oozing. As you have probably guessed, the surgeon replied that everything looked okay and she should just keep her scheduled appointment.

She had to send a whopping nine separate photos to the surgeon for him to instruct her to go back to the Sugar Land Hospital, where he finally took her to the operating room to drain and clean out the knee. She had to stay admitted to the hospital for two weeks on IV antibiotics and was sent home with a drain, and set up with a home health nurse and instructions to see an infectious diseases doctor.

As a result of the delay in treatment, she developed potentially-deadly sepsis and had to be admitted to a Texas Medical Center hospital for intense treatment with IV antibiotics. In addition, she had to have another surgery, with a different surgeon, at a different hospital, to remove all of her knee hardware, and re-do the surgery in a different way because of bone loss from her infection.

What you can do

Based on my experience, I recommend that any patient who goes through a surgery keep a few things in mind.

First, after getting over the initial recovery from the surgical procedure, maintain a general awareness of whether you are getting better, getting worse, or staying the same. Surgical experts say that, within a few days after surgery, most patients turn the corner on pain and start feeling better. If you go in the opposite direction, it is important to notify your surgeon immediately. You may need to be assertive in order to get an appointment to be checked out.

Second, any time you go to surgery and there is an opening or incision in the skin, there is a risk of getting an infection. Keep a close eye on any incision site, looking for things like redness, puffiness, swelling, pain, and any discharge. Again, if things appear to be getting worse rather than better, that is a good sign that you need to get in touch with the surgeon and request to be seen.

When it comes to infections, getting diagnosed and treated quickly is crucial. This is also an important consideration in event of medical malpractice. If you or someone you care for has been seriously injured as a result of a misdiagnosed and mistreated infection, or any other type of medical mistake or negligence, there are strict time limitations that applied your potential claim. Call Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, at 281-580-8800, for a free consultation about your potential case.


Robert Painter is an attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. In 2017, H Texas magazine named him as one of Houston’s top lawyers.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.