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Surgical error causes woman to catch on fire

Miami, Florida, residents should know that surgical errors occur in many different forms. Sometimes surgical instruments are left inside of patients and other times incisions are made in the wrong place. Yet, these are not the boundaries of hospital neglect and medical malpractice during surgery.

A recent incident in New York illustrates this point. A cesarean section was being performed on a woman when she smelled something odd. Then she saw smoke. When she asked the doctor what was going on, he responded that there was a small fire. That fire was on the woman's abdomen. Fortunately, the baby was born safely.

The painful third degree burn measured seven inches long and five inches wide. When the victim went to a plastic surgeon to have the burn surgically repaired, the doctor said the injury looked similar to a napalm burn.

The cause of the fire, a common hospital antiseptic, is quite flammable. Though the manufacturer of the antiseptic had warned hospitals and doctors that the liquid should dry before surgical procedures commenced, the anesthesiologist in this case claims that the antiseptic was still wet when it caught fire.

The victim has brought a medical malpractice suit against the doctor and the hospital, claiming that doctors and nurses were negligent in failing to heed the antiseptic manufacturer's precautionary steps.

If successful with her medical malpractice claim, the victim will be able to recover medical costs from the treatment of her burn. In addition, she might be able to get compensation for lost wages for time missed form work, and for pain and suffering, which she still faces as a result of the injury.

Patients who face even more severe medical malpractice injuries can seek other forms of relief that compensate for the loss of enjoyment of life, loss of future earning capacity and, in some cases, punitive damages.

Medical malpractice claims not only provide compensation to victims, but also hold healthcare professionals accountable for their preventable mistakes.

Source: The Post-Standard, "Woman's abdomen catches fire, as surgical tool ignites antiseptic," John O'Brien, April 1, 2012

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