In her early twenties, Cassie was admitted to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. She had not been feeling well for a couple of days but figured it was just a stomach bug and was trying to push through it. She finally collapsed at work and her co-workers had her rushed to the hospital, where the doctors realized her appendix was going to burst and she needed to have it out immediately.
They got it out in time and she recovered quite nicely, and was able to go home within a couple of days. However, a couple of days after being released from the hospital she was in her periodontist’s office with a toothache, which was especially odd considering she was not eating very much post-operation either. The periodontist was extremely concerned that she had contracted an infection at the hospital, and wanted to run some tests. He was right to be concerned. The tests came back positive for infection, and her tooth was being destroyed by the infection as they spoke.
He did not want to send her back to the hospital, since that was where she had gotten sick, but he sent his dental hygienist to the pharmacy for antibiotics. He was going to have the tooth extracted right there in his office, because he was afraid it was going to spread quickly otherwise. At the moment it was still contained, so she agreed to have the tooth extracted. Once the infection appeared to have cleared up, he could have a dental implant put in in its place so she would not be walking around for the rest of her life with a tooth missing. Cassie was shocked, but grateful she had gone in, and she also got the periodontist on the phone with her primary care doctor to make sure they were both on the same page before he did anything else with her tooth.
She called her boyfriend to let him know she was going to need a ride home and would have to leave her car at the dentist’s office for another day, and he left work early to come and wait while she had the tooth extracted, and then took her home. She went in each day after that for check ups for nearly a week so that he could make sure the infection had not spread, and she also visited her primary care doctor while she was at it, so he could keep an eye on the surgical wound from the appendectomy. Cassie was having a rough week, to say the least, but she is still grateful that she came out of this missing only a tooth and her appendix. One of those can be replaced and the other is not necessary for survival, so she is in pretty good shape.
Hospital acquired infections are a big problem for many patients, so it is wise to return to the doctor’s office if you sense anything is not right after being discharged from a surgery. It could even save your life!