Mother of Three Hospitalized in Alabama Burn Unit Following Surgery Fire

A medical error can change a life in an instant, but painful burn injuries and disfigurement from surgical fires are especially shocking when they occur.

According to ECRI, an independent medical research organization, an estimated 550 to 650 surgical fire accidents occur each year in the United States. Such operating room fires are 100% preventable.

One such incident occurred on December 2,  2011. A 29-year-old Florida woman was flown to a University of South Alabama burn unit in critical condition with second degree face and neck burns following a surgical fire at a Crestview Florida surgical center.

The mother of three was having cysts removed for from her head for biopsy when the flash fire erupted in the surgery room. The exact cause of the blaze is unknown.

The North Okaloosa Medical Center issued a statement saying that are conducting a further review to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

The FDA released a safety communication concerning surgical fires in October 2011.  The communication emphasized that fires can be ignited any time when “all three elements of the fire triangle are present.”  The first element of the triangle is a heat or ignition source. During surgery, a heat source can be an electro-surgical implement or laser. The second element – a fuel source – can be a surgical dressing or alcohol-based prep solution. The final element, an oxidizer such as a medical gas or oxygen, can further support the combustion of fuel.

The FDA reports that “Most surgical fires occur in oxygen-enriched environments, when the concentration of oxygen is greater than ordinary room air. An open oxygen delivery system, such as a nasal cannula or mask, presents a greater risk of fire than a closed delivery system, such as a laryngeal mask.”

Many surgical fire victims suffer burns to the face, neck or chest, due to the close proximity of enriched oxygen to these areas of the body.

All surgical patients should take a proactive stance in questioning their surgeon well before surgery to see if the hospital or surgical team has a plan or protocol in place to prevent fires, or to rapidly extinguish them, should a blaze ignite in an operating room.

The lawyers at Wininger Law Firm know that burn injuries from medical negligence, a work injury, an auto accident, or from a fire, electrical accident or explosion, can cause extreme pain and disfigurement. Burn injuries often require long term care and rehabilitation.

If you are hospitalized or recovering at home with a burn injury, we will come to your hospital bed or residence to answer  questions about your case, during a free injury consultation.

Our caring attorneys will do everything possible to secure a financial settlement for you to pay for past and future medical bills, wage loss, permanent scarring, and for pain and suffering.