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Surgical Fires Cause Complications

Defective Devices / June 15, 2016

Surgical Fires are caused by a mixture of oxygen, heat, and fuel. Most surgical fires are preventable. If you or a loved one has been affected by a surgical fire, contact the Hollis Law Firm today.

The ECRI Institute estimates that approximately 550-600 surgical fires occur every year. A surgical fire is any fire that occurs in, on, or around a patient undergoing a medical or surgical procedure. These fires almost always start because of what is called the fire triangle – a combination of air, heat, and fuel. The operating room contains all of necessary tools for a fire to start. Gauze sponges, towels, drapes, and plastic tubing all provide fuel in the event of a surgical fire. High heat or ignition sources can be found in surgical lasers, microscopes, endoscopes, or even monitors. The anesthesia workstation supplies an oxygen-enriched environment. The oxygen provided during surgery counteracts the respiratory depressant effects of sedation.

Although rare, surgical fires can be life threatening. Many of the fires happen inside the patient or on their face – near the anesthesia tubing. During an operation to remove a facial cyst in February of 2012, a spark was created while using a cautery device. The spark quickly started a fire on the patient. The patient had to be transferred to another hospital for treatment of second degree burns. An investigation into the Datex-Ohmeda Aestiva anesthesia machine was started by GE to find the source of the fire. In December of 2012, a terminal lung cancer patient sustained burns to their bronchial area and face when the tumor caught fire. The procedure was intended to create an opening that should have facilitated the patient getting more air prior to hospice placement. GE launched an investigation into the Datex-Ohmeda Aisys anesthesia machine. An infant undergoing a patent ductus arteriosus procedure suffered severe burns after flames came out of the endotracheal tube. The October 2009 procedure left the infant in critical condition. The hospital refused an inspection of the Drager KC Fabius GS anesthesia workstation following the accident.

If you or your loved one suffered a surgical fire during your operation, contact the Hollis Law Firm today. All information shared with the Hollis Law Firm is confidential and risk free. We work on a contingency fee basis, you never owe any money unless there’s a recovery for your claim. Our knowledgeable legal team is here to answer your questions and fight for you, call us today at (800) 701-3672.