Hundreds of Operating Room Patients Set Ablaze Each Year

By September 25, 2008Medical Malpractice

Surgical flash fires were once thought to be freak occurrences. But a new report reveals that about 600 people are set ablaze each year in the operating room, 20 to 30 of those patients suffer serious disfigurement and one or two die.
The data was gleaned from information collected by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System, MSNBC.com reports.
In the article, “On fire in the OR: Hundreds are hurt every year,” health writer JoNel Aleccia recounts the stories of burn victims who went in for routine surgery and awoke to find their faces so badly disfigured that they couldn’t even recognize themselves.
The conditions in the operating room can be conducive to fires. The high oxygen concentrations provide fuel. Electrosurgical tools, hot wires, lights, burrs, defibrillators and lasers can supply heat. Tiny facial hairs are enough to spread a flash flame.
Approximately 65 percent of surgical fires occur on the upper body or inside a patient’s airway. Another 25 percent occur on other parts of the body and less than 10 percent occur inside the body.
Currently, there is no mandatory national system that tracks surgical fires and efforts to convince hospitals to hold surgical fire drills have had mixed results. Only about half of U.S. hospitals conduct surgical room fire prevention and control drills.
Even as hospitals lag behind, some medical groups are pushing new recommendations to combat the problem. New recommendations or expanded education programs have been announced by The American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Academy of Surgeons, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, and the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses.
Severe burn injuries are both disfiguring and disabling. Survivors may suffer have to endure multiple skin grafts and lengthy hospital stays.
Contact an experienced burn injury lawyer to learn if you may take legal action to recover for the serious and debilitating injuries from which you suffer. At the Lowe Law Firm you will receive prompt and personal attention from an experienced burn injury attorney.