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Van Wey, Metzler & Williams

Hospital Fires and Serious Burns

What are Hospital Fires and Serious Burns?
How do Surgical Fires and Hospital Burns Occur?

Based on recent data, there are approximately 650 surgical fires every year in American hospitals. They occur when careless medical mistakes and ignorance of fire basics occur.

Because all of the elements that cause fires are typically present in operating rooms, and, sometimes, surgical personnel may not be prepared for putting out fires when they start, patients can suffer critical or even fatal burns.

The entire surgical team, through fire training, is responsible for controlling these components and sparing patients the horrible pain and suffering associated with burn injuries. While surgeons tend to operate the lasers, cauterizing tools, or other surgical instruments that produce heat, nurses generally manage fuels that feed fires, such as alcohol, linens, gauze, ointments, and tubing. In addition, anesthesiologists use oxidizers like pure oxygen, oxygen mixtures or nitrous oxide, to keep patients sedated.

When all three of these elements mix during a surgery, fires can start either on, or in a patient, or on various flammable surfaces surrounding their bodies. Surgical fires may minimally impair medical equipment or supplies, but they can cause catastrophic harm to sleeping victims.

In many cases, it is actually the patient who catches on fire. With oxygen flowing through an endotracheal tube or blowing through face masks, a spark from a laser or surgical tool can ignite anything flammable near the patient: hair, tissue, skin, sheets, drapes, or plastic tubes. In most cases, additionally, the operation will be interrupted which could also put the patient’s life at risk.

Even if the patient or surrounding area does not erupt in flames, many times doctors use instruments incorrectly, causing serious burns to the patient. Cautery devices are the most common cause of injury for hospital burns. Cautery devices are intended to burn tissue to stop bleeding faster than stitching or applying pressure. Cautery devices are usually used on the small veins in a surgical opening to stop bleeding and allow the doctor a clear view of the area.

Unfortunately, accidents happen. The cautery device may slip in the doctor’s hand, or the doctor may cauterize the wrong tissue. While many of these injuries can be minor or considered a normal risk of surgery, occasionally patients suffer serious burns to their organs, tissues, or skin because of a doctor’s negligence.

Other than cautery devices, there are many surgical instruments and tools used today that can cause burns when used improperly.

Surgical Fires and Hospital Burns Can Be Devastating

Surgical fires and hospital burns are, many times, devastating. They include first, second, or third degree burns to the skin or other areas of the body. Burns can be internal or external, depending on whether or not the surgical site was open. Surgical fires happen mostly in or around patients’ mouths, airways, or heads, affecting faces, eyes or ears. Hospital burns happen mostly within the body cavity, but can also be external.

Though surgical fires and hospital burns typically do not result in a high number of deaths, the severe pain, and scarring that survivors endure every day following their burn injuries is beyond comprehension.

Who Should File a Surgical File Lawsuit?

Surgical fires are preventable and should never happen. Hospital burns are preventable and precautions can be taken to avoid them.

When we realize that simple operating room precautions or procedural fire drills can be performed to prevent surgical fires and patient injuries, we understand that these types of incidents are inexcusable and worthy of legal action. Hospital burns can, likewise be prevented by doctor care, skill, continuing education, training, and practice using the tools involved in their surgeries.

Preventing surgical fires in the OR is a question of following known procedures. Only trained preoperative nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgeons who know the procedures should be allowed in the OR. The head surgeon’s duty is to make sure all members of the team are aware of the risks, that they know their role well and they know how to communicate well with the others.

Because medical professionals can avoid tragedies, they reveal blatant negligence of doctors and nurses when they occur. If you or a loved one have experienced a surgical burn or hospital burn, we can help you get the justice you deserve.

Every type of operation, including electrocautery, tracheostomy, and head surgery, has its own set of fire prevention measures, and they are very much the same for every operating room.

How Can We Help You?

With educated surgical team members and widely known and accepted procedures, no surgical fire or hospital burn should ever destroy what should be a life-saving operation. If you or someone you love was the victim of a surgical fire or was seriously burned by a cautery or other surgical device, the team at Van Wey, Metzler & Williams is here to help you.

We are here for you. Call us today!

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