Articles Posted in Fire / burn malpractice

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An Illinois woman has died six days after a surgical fire during an operation at a hospital. The hospital has acknowledged in a statement that the fire happened but won’t offer specifics. The medical examiner’s office says the woman died from complications of thermal burns, and her death is listed as accidental. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have successfully handled surgical fire and burn cases. For example, one was a case involving a fire during surgery where a man was severely burned and another involved a severe thermal burn that took place during surgery. Fires and unintended burns during surgery are completely preventable and perfect examples of malpractice. Surgeons and hospitals have known for decades how to prevent operating room fires and burns. Usually, it’s a simple as not using 100% oxygen, draping a patient properly or making sure that flammable skin prep solutions dry before using an electric cautery device. When a surgeon uses excessive oxygen or a patient is not properly draped, things that normally do not catch fire such as surgical drapes, skin and hair, can catch fire in an oxygen rich environment. In fact, I still have a video showing the difference between how surgical drapes catch fire normally (very slowly) compared to an oxygen rich environment (almost explosive). It’s shocking. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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Today, MSNBC ran a story about Operating Room fires. The article states that the latest data reveals about 600 cases annually. A copy of the article can be found here. These fires, sometimes called surgery fires or surgical fires, are completely preventable occurrences.

I have successfully handled a number of these cases, including operative room burns and unintended surgical burns. In these cases, the patient caught on fire because the surgeon did not keep the cautery device away from the oxygen that was being given to the patient during the surgery. The patient also received oxygen at too high a concentration, thereby contributing the likelihood of fire. Doctors and hospitals have known for decades how to prevent surgical fires, yet they still occur. I would say that any time a patient catches on fire during surgery it is a clearly due to medical malpractice and should result in a malpractice lawsuit.

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The family of a man killed last week in an Illinois nursing home fire has filed a lawsuit alleging that staff at the Hampton Plaza Health Care Centre were not equipped to handle the fire. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

Fires involving elderly or disabled people are horrifying. We are currently handling a product liability case in which an home hospital bed, provided by Johns Hopkins and distributed by Sunrise Medical, caught fire causing a wife/mother to burn to death. It is a tragic case.

I also have handled cases in involving fires that start during surgery. In my cases, the patient caught on fire because the surgeon did not keep the cautery device away from the oxygen that was being given to the patient during the surgery. Doctors and hospitals have long known how to prevent surgical fires, yet they still occur. I would say that any time a patient catches on fire during surgery it is a clearly due to medical malpractice.