In December of 2011, a Florida woman went into surgery to have cysts removed from her head. What began as a routine surgery in Crestview, Florida ended with her being flown to a burn unit in Alabama after a flash fire during surgery torched her face and neck.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while fires during surgery are relatively rare, there are still 550 to 650 surgical fires every year in the United States. Some cases have led to second and third degree burns to patients. And, although deaths are less common, they have been reported to the FDA and usually occur when a patient’s airway is burned in a fire.
Surgical fires occur in oxygen-rich surgery environments where an Electrical Surgical Unit, a laser or a device with an optical light source, is used. These two elements, when combined with fuel sources such as surgical drapes or alcohol-based skin preparation agents, can lead to an increased risk of a fire with the potential for serious injury, disfigurement, and even death.
The FDA states that surgical fires are completely preventable if the surgery staff conducts a thorough fire risk assessment before an operation and takes steps to eliminate all potential fire-hazards in an operating room. In 2010, the FDA and partners launched a surgical fire prevention initiative designed to promote safety in surgery settings.
Simple due diligence by medical professionals can go a long way in avoiding potential harmful outcomes for patients during surgery. At Farah & Farah, we believe in your right to as safe a medical environment as possible. Our Florida medical malpractice attorneys are ready to take your call if you have been hurt or incapacitated due to medical negligence. Call us at (800) 533-3555 and let’s get the conversation started.
Sources: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-12-01/news/30464749_1_flash-fire-cyst-panhandle-hospital; http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm275189.htm