Woman lit on fire during Cesarean-section surgery files lawsuit

A Cesarean-section is a common surgery performed on many Illinois women and other women in the U.S. who experience complications during the delivery of a baby or who are physically unable to have a vaginal birth.

Although C-sections are commonly performed, doctors and other medical professionals are susceptible to making serious or fatal surgical errors if they fail to adhere to an established standard of care during these procedures. This includes making sure that the surgery is performed correctly and that those involved with performing the surgery receive proper training beforehand.

One complication that can occur during a C-section if doctors and nurses are not properly trained on how to use certain chemicals during the surgery is a fire. This not only could result in a mother suffering burn injuries, but it could also result in a baby suffering serious injuries as well.

Two years ago, a woman who was in surgery for a C-section said that she suddenly smelled an odd odor during the procedure and she alerted her medical team to the smell. Staff members reassured her that nothing was wrong, but the woman’s mother who was present for the operation said that she noticed smoke in the room. The obstetrician who was performing the operation then noticed a small flame on the patient’s body. The fire was put out and doctors told the patient that the fire was minor.

It wasn’t until after the surgery that the woman found out that her own body had been on fire during the operation. The woman sustained a third-degree burn injury on her side that was approximately 7 inches long and 5 inches wide. Fortunately, the woman’s baby was not injured in the incident.

The woman has since filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital after sustaining the painful injury. The woman’s lawsuit claims that the team of physicians and nurses failed to follow proper protocol when using an alcohol-based antiseptic during the operation. The antiseptic reportedly caught fire because of heat from surgical instruments.

The surgical team reported during depositions that they had not been trained in fire prevention strategies related to the antiseptic agent that was used during the operation, and they were unaware that the compound posed burn dangers. The manufacturer of the product had reportedly included warnings on the solution’s packaging.

Since the incident, new procedures have been put in place at the hospital to prevent other women from suffering similar burn injuries during C-section operations.

Source: The Syracuse Post-Standard, “Woman’s abdomen catches fire during C-section, as surgical tool ignites antiseptic,” John O’Brien, April 1, 2012

Surgical Errors


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