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New York woman injured during surgical fire

The scene is disturbing. A woman in New York endured a burn on her side after catching on fire in no other place but in the middle of surgery. An antiseptic applied to the woman's skin caused her seven-inch burn. The antiseptic was alcohol-based and started on fired by another medical device.

This traumatic surgical error could have been much worse but luckily the fire was extinguished quickly. Even scarier, the surgery was a cesarean section and doctors were delivering her baby. The baby was unharmed.

Patients injured because of negligent or reckless surgical errors can recover for their injuries and damages. The woman in this case sued over her injuries. Her case against the hospital was successful and a settlement was reached out-of-court. The hospital took full responsibility for the incident but never actually admitted any negligence.

In the suit against the doctor a jury did not agree with the claim and cleared the doctor of any negligence stemming from the incident. The doctor testified at trial and said that the fire was just one of the inherent risks of surgery. Surgical fires do happen rarely. In this case the antiseptic used failed to evaporate in time and caught on fire. The patient describes smelling something during the surgery but being told to not worry about it. She didn't realize what happened until after her baby was delivered.

Regardless of the type of surgery, all medical professionals must follow an accepted standard of care in the operating room. If their conduct drops below that standard, then injured patients may be able to recover for the negligent care. One way to demonstrate inadequate care is with expert testimony. A strong legal team can help secure the right experts to show that the medical profession failed to meet the standard of care.

Source: Daily Mail, "Doctor cleared of malpractice after pregnant patient catches FIRE on his operating table," Oct. 27, 2012

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