Operating Room Fire Injury – You’re probably shocked to hear this, but it happens more often than you would think; operating room fires that injure patients. It’s not extremely uncommon for a fire to take place in an operating room, and I’ve had two of those cases in my career.
In the first case, a woman was going in to have a mole removed from above her eyebrow. In order to have the procedure, she was having anesthesia and the anesthesiologist was delivering her oxygen by way of a face mask. During the surgery, the surgeon was going to use a device called a Bovie cautery, a cauterizing tool that stops bleeding and also does cutting. Unfortunately, that device also sparks.
The surgeon and the anesthesiologist failed to communicate with each other, and when the surgeon went to use the Bovie cautery, it sparked and the anesthesiologist was still delivering oxygen by mask. A fire occurred that caused first and second degree burns on my client’s face and chest.
In another case, very similar facts, but this time the surgery was being done on the client’s shoulder. She was having a port put in so that she could have chemotherapy, and the same thing basically happened. Oxygen being delivered by mask, Bovie cautery, a spark and oxygen combined produced a fire. So you would think it would be very uncommon, but it’s not.
You would also think that when something like that happens, the doctors would immediately accept responsibility and compensate the injured patient. It didn’t happen in either one of those cases. We had to go to court and fight with the doctors and their insurance companies in order to get justice. Ultimately, both of those cases settled, but you would be surprised, number one, that operating fires occur, and number two, that doctors and insurance companies would attempt to defend those cases by saying that they were not negligent.