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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2005 December;125(4):213-22
Forensic aspects of postsurgical infections
Bonziglia S., Cariti G.
Hospital-acquired infections represent a major problem both in developed and in developing countries, with an important impact on mortality and morbility statistics. The most common sites of infection are the urinary tract, the lower airways and the surgical wounds. Hospital acquired infections are defined as infections occurring in hospitalised patients that are neither present nor incubated at hospital entry. This definition includes infections occurring after discharge, but whose incubation time can be related to hospital stay. Surgical infections are deemed as hospital-acquired when occurring within 30 days of surgery or within one year of prostetic insertion. Due to their clinical severity and their pain and economic burden, significant efforts are needed to decrese their occurrence. Correctly applied hygienic rules, adequate antibiotic prophylaxis given before surgery and rapid, effective and minimally traumatic surgery acts are the most important practices for limiting postsurgical infections. Although the eradication of the risk of surgical infection is quite difficult, if not impossible, a list containing all the procedures that are considered essential for quality control in the prevention of surgical infection should be provided along with hospital documents and surgical act's description. In case of forensic controversies, this list might be used as a proof of correct application of the recommended procedures, thus documenting a conduct inspired to careful and conscientious professional principles.