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Surgical Infections After Surgery
updated: Aug 19, 2014, 4:10 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Has anyone else had problems with post surgical infections after surgery at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital? After a simple arthroscopic procedure my husband contracted a serious infection which has required additional surgery and a long recovery. The surgeon point blank said it was most likely caused by an improperly sterilized instrument. Do we have any recourse? does the CDC or anyone oversee stuff like this? Any help is much appreciated.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 545973 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 04:30 PM

Superbug infestations are rampant at many US hospitals - my brother had a fairly minor infection from a splinter in his butt, and after treatment at the new Lompoc hospital, he contracted MRSA and almost died.

The problem goes much deeper than just improperly sterilized surgical instruments.


 COMMENT 545977P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 04:35 PM

Not good news.... I may be going there for some arthroscopic surgery in the near future! bummer. They need to sterilize EVERYTHING


 COMMENT 545991P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 05:10 PM

OP, did it ever occur to you that this may be the surgeon trying to cover his own butt??? It could just as easily have been something that he did, or something that happened after your husband left the hospital and was home. Don't necessarily blame Goleta Valley Hospital. No, I am neither a Dr. or a nurse, nor do I have any connection to Goleta Valley Hospital. Something like this happened in my family, not at Goleta Valley, and these things are sometimes just no body's fault.


 COMMENT 545996 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 05:20 PM

You can contact the hospital directly and track down someone in Compliance. Incidences like these are usually reportable - and reported - and there should be records of incidences and frequencies. If there are an unusual amount of post-surgical infections occurring, then The Joint Commission, HHS and other accrediting bodies should be notified. In the meantime, you might get somewhere faster by contacting someone on the Board.

That said, these kinds of things DO happen, unfortunately. Hope your hubby is all healed up. PS what kind of infection was it?


 COMMENT 546001 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 05:29 PM

Post bill infection.... yes. Went in for a head trauma, in the end they put 4 staples in my head and the bill came to $7500.00 for a 1 hour visit. Crazy isn't it?


 COMMENT 546012 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 05:53 PM

Nosocomial infections are not uncommon.


 COMMENT 546018 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 06:13 PM

Many people die from infections contacted while staying in a hospital and the number of cases are rising dramatically on a national level. Reporting it to the hospital might alow it to be swept under the carpet. Start with cdph dot ca dot gov website.


 COMMENT 546023P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 06:23 PM

I'd like to see the history of infections for Goleta Valley Hospital


 COMMENT 546024 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 06:24 PM

Please ID the type of infection.


 COMMENT 546026 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 06:44 PM

OP here. The surgery was bilateral on both wrists with only one becoming infected. There were prophalactic antibiotics given after surgery but from about 7 days post op it was evident something was wrong. They cultures came back MSSA or basically staph. Thank goodness it is not MRSA. The suspicions of instruments causing the infection are that this was a very short surgery with very small incisions. Not many opportunities for contamination by other means. We totally understand that hospital acquired infections happen. The second surgery along with the PICC line and now looking at 2-3 months of not being able to work is what sucks. We are not looking for a lawsuit but also do not want this to happen to someone else. The hospital has not made any attempt to contact us. We will go forward with reporting this to the appropriate agency in the hopes that it will at least be documented.


 COMMENT 546030P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 07:21 PM

A friend who was in charge of surgical room equipment preparation and sterilizations for a SoCal hospital (not here, LA area) regularly fought with that hospital's administrators over their attempts to cut corners, and not allow sufficient time for correct sterilization. I would doubt that would happen here, but I can tell you that GVCH's ER wasn't nearly as clean as it used to be the last few times I was there (with elderly parents). It's almost like they're neglecting it while they work on their over-due replacement hospital next door... I'd go talk to the hospital's chief administrator before I filed a lawsuit, and tell him about your concerns and intentions.


 COMMENT 546036 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 08:26 PM

Hospitals are full of sick people. I'm not being snarky but it's like Grand Central Station for diseases and opportunistic infections.... a 24/7 germ rave.


 COMMENT 546038P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 08:30 PM

I've been in the ER at the main Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital several times recently with family members and been appalled at the lack of clean technique, much less sterile....The triage nurse in the little cubicle doesn't clean the blood pressure cuff or stethescope between patients. I've watched it fall to the ground and get picked up and used..... The chairs aren't cleaned between patients either. I watched my husband get hustled out of the ER after a procedure as trauma victims were being brought in. The bed wasn't cleaned, neither was the equipment counter where his clothes, shoes, and backback had been sitting. The other equipment in the room wasn't cleaned either. They just threw a clean sheet on the bed and that was it....As a nurse, it makes me shudder! The inpatient rooms have no tissues, and the bed sheet had a big hole in it last time we were there (about 2 weeks ago). There is NO valet parking at the main entrance. Sometimes there isn't any at the ER entrance either. That's a big problem for my husband and me as we are both disabled and can't walk very far. That's multimillion dollar cost-cutting for you, and probably part of the reason Cottage is 128 million dollars in the black. When I needed surgery I went up to Stanford. It was worth the drives and motel stays to get top notch care. At Stanford, not only do they have valet parking (for a fee), they have a free shuttle bus every few minutes from the parking structures to the main entrance, along with people out front to assist you on and off and wheelchairs if you can't walk well. Everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful, and the difference between them and Cottage is like night and day.


 COMMENT 546045P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 08:45 PM

Post surgery infections are a dirty secret in this town. It's been interesting to observe how little publicity there is about this serious problem.


 COMMENT 546047P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 08:47 PM

I asked my doctor about getting tetanus, and he told me that. actually, the most common place to acquire it was from surgical equipment, no longer from rusty metal in a field somewhere.


 COMMENT 546052P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 09:41 PM

Anyone seriously interested in comparing health care providers can learn a lot by subscribing to Consumer Reports online. CU also does some great work on behalf of all consumers of all products and services, so subscriptions support a very good cause. They don't like people sharing their ratings, but I'll say that like all hospitals Cottage has strong and weak areas that I like knowing about in advance. Cottage it seems does rather poorly in surgical-site infections like the general topic of this discussion and in several others including death in the hospital due to a treatable complication. Cottage does much better than the national average in some other important categories like avoiding re-admissions, which can be a big problem for many hospitals. GVCH doesn't have enough patients to get ratings for most things including all of the above, thus often making the drive to SBCH or beyond worth the drive for me. If you can't afford a CU subscription, healthcare dot gov has some free ranking info on both hospitals.


 GIGGLES agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 09:55 PM

I had a BABY there in 1993...Got a staph infection in my IV area...My mother (an RN for 45 years) had a fit!!!! She wanted me to report it. I didn't... Had to go on antibiotics for a week or so...ya.


 COMMENT 546061P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-19 11:45 PM

052P - thank you - your info is well written and seems accurate. Am a CU subscriber and have read the references you mention. Rarely do the local media mention or review CH's weaknesses. Guess most of us have to hope for the best and accept that CH and Sansum are the health care gorillas in Santa Barbara.


 COMMENT 546073 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 07:05 AM

I had a botched knee replacement and spinal tap due to nurse improper equipment set up and the spinal tap was by a new tech. My Dr had to restitch my knee on my bed.

I developed flaky skin sores on my leg and back. Dr told the nurse to remove the sheets and bleach them as I developed an infection from the sheets. I had to stay an extra 2 days and then they wanted me or my insurance to pay for all of it. We didn't. I also had to have surgery on my back as a result.

There is no recourse as the state have limits of 250K and if the lawyers can't get 100k they won't take the case.

If you are thinking of Cottage hosp stay, I suggest going to LA or Riverside.


 COMMENT 546074P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 07:05 AM

When a friend's post-op infection after joint replacement almost ended in loss of a leg, I opted to go to UCLA. Friend ended up having 2 more hip replacements at UCLA in order to rid his body of the infection. I wasn't taking a chance.
When I mentioned this to a few friends, I was astounded by the numbers of people who had also experienced serious post-op orthopedic infections. In my own circle, I heard of 6 serious infections, one from a retired surgeon even.

Preventing infection must be hard to put on a patient bill. With all the creative billing, they should be able to charge for infection control and not see it as a too-expensive program to maintain properly


 COMMENT 546080 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 07:15 AM

They say to ask for the infection data from the hospital before you go in. Of course they hate providing it. If they won't give it, you have to figure out how to go to another hospital that is more forthcoming under your health plan.

America, spends more than any other nation on healthcare, gets less for it.

Sounds about right.


 COMMENT 546132 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 09:25 AM

The federal gov't makes hospital quality info available on the following website including surgical complications and healthcare associated infections (HAI): http://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html.

Here's a link to a comparison of Goleta Valley and Cottage (which shows that Goleta Valley didn't have scores available for HAI).


Another really good, consumer-oriented website with California hospital (and other provider) info is www.calqualitycare.org.


 SB FAN agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 10:54 AM

For hospital ratings and comparative info you can go to:


 DOG MOM agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 12:01 PM

6012 & 6018-I agree, as a retired hospital employee.


 COMMENT 546233P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 01:25 PM

I appreciate this thread and the willingness of posters to speak up. I had heard that the care here was worrisome, but didn't believe it until I had a near disaster with wound infection after surgery.


 WOODRUFF agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 02:13 PM

For a shocking view of unclean quarters, try Ventura County Medical Center, where a close family member recently had the misfortune to need emergency treatment. It was an unbelievable sty, with my relative left bloody, concussed, and unattended in a filthy cubicle for an hour before I could get there.


 COMMENT 546250 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 02:25 PM

At VCMC they have to have signs telling the blood drawing people not to eat their food in the draw rooms. Who in their right mind would even want to eat in there?


 COMMENT 546340 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 06:08 PM

OP: The staff at Cottage was very sorry to read about your experience. We would like to talk with you about it and invite you to contact Lisa Green, Patient Relations Coordinator, at 879-8769 to discuss your specific concerns.

Cottage takes aggressive measures to prevent infection, and publicly reports healthcare associated infection rates on our website (www.cottagehealthsystem.org). Overall infection rates at our hospitals are well below national benchmarks.


 COMMENT 546367P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-20 10:56 PM

Just going to say that yes, it happens. But with all my family members have been through, from central ports to hip replacements to Swan-Ganz heart catheter (that was me) and more, it hasn't happened to us. Microbes are a huge part of life, we will never overcome or beat the bad ones. Be educated and advocate intensely, even obnoxiously, in persistence, not approach, for your friend or family who is in the hospital.


 COMMENT 546777 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-22 10:31 AM

Infections resulting from careless or improper surgical procedures mean more hospital visits and - KA-CHING!!!!!!

According to the CDC, in 2011, there were 722,000 HAIs (hospital acquired infections) in the US, out of which 75,000 patients died. As our unique health 'care' system is driven by profit, rather than health and wellbeing, there is no financial incentive for the system to clean up its act; the financial hit on the industry would be huge if thee staggering HAI rates were merely halved... do the math!


 COMMENT 547270 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-23 07:56 PM

Oh yes lets get on EDHAT for our medical issues. I'm sure the is a non biased factual answer there.


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