Is contracting an infection post surgery a result of the surgeon's skill?

I've been reading about patient who contracted infections after surgery and others asking who was the surgeon in an attempt to blame the Doctor or use it as a review of the doctor's skill or competence. My question is: is it the doctor's fault for the infection? How can I prevent contracting an infection after my surgery?

Doctor Answers 9

Infection Risk Following Surgery

There are many causes for a postoperative surgical infection, and many times a specific cause can not be identified in a particular case.  Even in a so-called "clean" cosmetic operation, there is always a risk of infection.  Obviously, all surgeons and the staff at the surgical facility take great care to minimize this risk.  However, in spite of preventive actions, infection can still occur from factors such as lengthy surgery with the wounds open to the environment for many hours, trauma to tissue from manipulation and rearrangement that can decrease circulation, inadvertent and unrecognized breaks in sterile technique, just to name a few.  Also, the patient may have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or vascular problems that could increase infection risk. Be sure to discuss with your surgeon the relative infection risk for your particular operation and follow all postoperative care guidelines to allow safe, uncomplicated healing.


West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Postoperative infections are a risk of any surgery.

An infection after surgery is a risk for every patient. Some patients have medical issues or are taking certain medications which may also increase infection risk. Sterile technique (sterile drapes, prepping the skin, scrubbing one's hands) lowers the risk considerably. One of our goals as surgeons is to minimize this risk as much as possible. It is also important for patients to follow postoperative instructions - particularly in regards to drains, bathing, and antibiotics. The bottom line is that no matter how diligent we may be, infections can and do happen. 

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Infection After Surgery

Thank you for your question.

A #tummytuck or any other #surgery has risks which include complications like #infections. There are standards of cleanliness in the OR that help to mitigate any potential risks, but there is no 100% guarantee that you will not contract an infection.  This is not the surgeon's fault in most cases.

To minimize the risk of infection and other complications post-op, please have your surgery done by a #BoardCertified #PlasticSurgeon with years of experience.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Infection after elective surgery

Thanks for the question.  As I would always advice do your homework and possibly get several opinions before you consider surgery.  Be sure that your chosen surgeon will follow the well documented recommendations for preoperatively, intraoperative and postoperative recommendations that you have been made aware of is very important.  Thie next recommendation would be directed toward you as a potential patient.  You will need to follow every recommendation carefully, without variance, and the last suggestion is that what may be very important in hoping not to experience an infection will have to be based on your overall health, personal habits, and physiology.  This may have significant importance in hoping that you will have the result that you and the surgeon desire.

Good luck to you!

Frank Rieger M.D.  Tampa Plastic Surgeon

Is contracting an infection post surgery a result of the surgeon's skill?

Infections are a postop risk in ALL surgeries! There are standards in sterile techniques to be followed. 

Is contracting an infection post surgery a result of the surgeon's skill?

There are several risks associated with each surgical procedure- infection - is one of them. Why a person gets an infection after surgery- in most instances-can NOT be determined. Usually, if the infection is serious enough- cultures are obtained and a sensitivity to specific antibiotics is determined.  To answer your question- every case is individual and most infections are traceable to the patient, the patient's environment- but rarely the Surgeon

Preventing infection

We will never be able to judge the other past case you ask about as we do not have all the facts. You can minimize the risks of surgical infection by not having your surgery in a  hospital. This of course is where the sick people are and is the biggest risk in my mind. Next is to pick the right doctor who is aware of the current methods of  safe practice which means not having anyone but a board certified plastic surgeon take care of you. Even that of course does not remove the risks since not all surgeon the same quality. Some of risk of infection is because as stated before in other posts some patients are at higher risk due to their medical condition. Also some procedures low risk and others higher for infection. So the best answer is choose your doctor carefully because you can't eliminate the risk of infection but you want a doctor who tries to minimize it. Good Luck!

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Agree with my colleague

I agree with my colleague.  The are two different factors at play:  Patient and Surgery.  The patient may be predisposed to infection by nature of diabetes, smoking, autoimmune disease, medications, etc, etc.  The surgery may predispose the patient by its nature.  If one is operating on a "dirty part of the body" - for instance the bowels, etc - you might be predisposed.  There are also extrinsic factors coming in play - such as the facility.  Make sure that you are in optimal shape for surgery, have no predisposing factors, and chose a certified facility in which to have your surgery.  Typically a hospital or ambulatory surgical facility that has been certified by AAAASF, JCAH or AAASF.  Best of Luck. 

Is contracting an infection post surgery a result of the surgeon's skill?

Thank you for the insightful question. Although frustrating, infectious complications are not necessarily anyone's “fault”.  Assuming you are in good health (without risk factors such as diabetes and/or use of nicotine products) and choose your plastic surgeon carefully (based on significant/demonstrable experience helping patients safely achieve the types of outcomes you will be pleased with), odds are that you will do well, without infectious complications. Once you have chosen your plastic surgeon carefully, all other important factors such as anesthesiologist, involve staff, and quality surgery facility "follow".  Best wishes.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.