The risk of infection always exists after a surgical procedure in which the skin breaks. The skin protects the interior of your body from bacteria, viruses and foreign materials. When you have an unnatural opening in the skin, such as the ones that occur during most surgical procedures, that barrier breaks and cannot protect you.
Another risk during surgery is a perforation of an organ, which allows dangerous fluids into the open cavities of your body. This could also lead to a serious infection. In fact, any post-operative infection leaves you vulnerable to a condition called sepsis in which your body’s immune system goes haywire and attacks itself.
A fever may be normal, or it may be a red flag
Since patients often have at least a low-grade fever that may last for days after a surgical procedure, doctors consider it a normal bodily response to the procedure. In many cases, you don’t need to worry, and you can take an over-the-counter fever reducer to relieve any discomfort. However, a long-lasting, low-grade fever could indicate an infection, especially if the surgical site is not healing as it should. Moderate fevers accompanied by nausea, vomiting and other symptoms may require immediate medical attention.
A fever following a surgical procedure could result from one of the following:
- A urinary tract infection
- A blood transfusion
- An infected incision
- An infection such as pneumonia or an abscess
- An abdominal infection resulting from fluid leakage at the surgical site
Any of these could progress into sepsis, which could be life threatening. While your doctor may express less concern over a low-grade or moderate fever, medical personnel should take any fever over 102 degrees seriously, especially if it occurs after a surgery. Your body is particularly vulnerable after an operation, and your medical staff ought to carefully monitor you for any signs that something is wrong, including a fever.
If your condition progresses into a life-threatening situation
If you suffered either a virulent infection and/or sepsis after a surgical procedure, it could be because you received substandard medical care. Discovering where in the chain of events something went wrong usually requires a thorough review of your medical records, discussions with medical personnel and more. It could turn out that something like dismissing your fever as unimportant led to a sequence of events that caused you harm.
If the situation warrants it, a medical malpractice case may be appropriate in order for you to seek the compensation you deserve.