Medical malpractice suit filed against Florida hospital

It was anything but routine when a fire broke out during a surgical procedure at Winter Haven Hospital in Florida resulting in second- and third-degree burns, and the loss of two fingers, for the patient on the operating table.

On June 7, 2010, a Polk County man entered the hospital for a relatively routine procedure. He was supposed to have a cardioverter-defibrillator implanted in his chest. According to documents filed in the medical malpractice lawsuit, just prior to the surgery the nurses attending the patient applied “excessive” alcohol preparation solution. Excessive amounts of the solution pooled on the bed sheets; additionally, the alcohol-based solution was not given enough time to dry.

During the surgery, a method called electrocautery was used for dissection. Electrocautery involves the use of a heated instrument to burn tissue. Documents filed with the court contend that the electrocautery method caused the pooled alcohol-solution to start on fire. The fire caused second- and third-degree burns to the patient’s thigh and right hand. He had to have skin grafts on his thigh and ultimately lost two of the fingers on his hand.

In addition to naming Winter Haven Hospital as a defendant, the lawsuit also named the cardiovascular surgeon operating on the patient and the professional association the surgeon is affliated with, Florida Heart and Vascular Surgeons P.A. According to the lawsuit, the hospital was negligent because it did not have the proper surgery preparation solution available (it should have been alcohol free), and because its nurses were negligent in their application of the solution. The patient is seeking over $15,000 for his injuries.

Source: The Ledger.com, “Suit Accuses Winter Haven Hospital of Negligence,” Robin Williams Adams, 29 June 2011.