Post op infection after cervical lymph node removal...

by Lara
(Lexington, Kentucky)

My son was five when he had an enlarged cervical lymph node. It was recommended that it be removed. His ENT removed the lymph node outpatient and he was sent home. A few days passed and the incision and area surrounding became red and swollen.

The surgeon was not available to see him, nor was my son's primary pediatrician so I took him to a walk in clinic associated with the ENT. I was told his neck and incision looked "good" by a nurse practitioner. Later that evening I took him to the emergency room, feeling I was not getting a good enough answer.

Upon his incision breaking open and an ultrasound it was discovered he had an infection, a pocket of infection in his neck. He was given clyndamycin (used to treat staph and strep infections), it cleared the infection right up. The opening of his incision and subsequent scar it has left has been a real burden on my little boy.

It breaks my heart that he is so self conscious about it. Not only does it bother him mentally but physically as well, it is painful to touch. Last year I went to a plastic surgeon in an attempt to do a scar revision. The operation went well, no infection but a portion of the scar continues to heal red and angry.

Unfortunately, I feel he will be left with this permanent reminder of his ordeal. I think what I am most concerned with is that he got an infection from such a minor surgery. I am a registered nurse at a University Hospital so I know healthcare. Looking back my son and I were not treated as we should have been.

From the time I noticed the infection something should have been done and perhaps the resulting scar could have been avoided. Is there anything I can do about this? Is this medical malpractice? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Post op infection after cervical lymph node removal...":

Lara (Lexington, Kentucky):

As a registered nurse you're probably familiar with the legal definition of medical malpractice. For those readers who aren't familiar with it, medical malpractice is defined as:

"Professional negligence, by act or omission, by a health care provider in which the treatment provided falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient, with most cases involving medical error."

The question is, if the doctor’s had seen your son when the area was red and swollen, would he or she have been able to prevent the scar. If the nurse practitioner had recognized the problem and instead of sending your son home, referred him to a hospital emergency room or to a doctor, would doing so have prevented the scar?

Would the scar have developed even if the doctors had seen your son, and/or the nurse practitioner recognized the problem?

Moreover, would the failure of the doctors and nurse practitioner to recognize and treat the problem be considered an act or omission which falls below the accepted standard of care in the medical community?

These questions, and more, may only be answered after an expert thoroughly reviews your son’s medical records. From the facts you present, there may be a viable claim for medical malpractice.

Malpractice cases are very complex. You should not attempt to negotiate the matter by yourself. You can be assured the doctors and nurse practitioner will not admit to having committed malpractice. As a result, the case will be hard fought by well-seasoned defense attorneys.

Find several medical malpractice attorneys in your area. Make several appointments and bring along your son’s medical records. Once the records have been reviewed by an experienced med mal attorney, you will have a better idea of the viability of a claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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