A 29-year-old North Florida woman was burned while in surgery to have cysts removed from her head. An investigation is under way to determine whether medical malpractice led to the fire that left the woman with second degree burns on her face and neck. The severity of the burns forced the hospital to remove her to a burn center in Alabama. The woman, who has three young children, now faces a long and painful recovery and likely permanent scarring.
The hospital released a statement indicating that they are conducting a thorough review of the situation to ensure that it does not happen again. The woman’s family and friends are shocked and saddened by the events. Her surgery was an outpatient procedure and they had no reason to believe she was in serious danger. The hospital has offered them no explanation as to what caused the flash fire.
Surgical fires are not unheard of, given the use of oxygen and tools that can produce excessive heat. It is too early to speculate about what specific combination of elements caused this fire, but it is certainly something that the hospital and medical personnel were in a position to avoid. The cause of the fire should be determined after investigators speak with the doctors and nurses present at the time of the fire.
Surgery is enough to inspire fear in almost any patient. The risks of surgery are generally explained to patients before an outpatient procedure begins. Serious burns are not likely one of the risks laid out for patients. If negligence was the cause of this fire, this woman deserves to be compensated for the harm done to her. Burns are among the most painful injuries a person can suffer and the consequences of a serious burn generally follow victims for the rest of their lives.
Source: The Miami Herald, “Woman’s face catches on fire during cyst surgery,” 2 December 2011