Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pregnant woman set on fire in operating room

The sensational headlines for this story tell much of the story as a pregnant woman apparently caught fire while delivering a baby. The doctor in charge of the operation was performing a Cesarean section, and antiseptics that had been applied to the wound were set on fire due to contact with a medical instrument.

Though the child suffered no injury, the mother suffered a 7-inch burn as a result of the surgical mistake. The pregnant woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the doctor that performed the delivery.

Though such fires are rare, but these have been known to occur when contact with an instrument is made before the alcohol in the antiseptic evaporates. It is because of the possibility of this kind of occurrence that care must be taken whenever antiseptics are used.

The woman was able to settle this matter out-of-court with the hospital where the birth delivery took place. Her suit against the doctor appears to have been unsuccessful as a jury dismissed her negligence claim.

There could be many reasons for why the jury decided like it did. Perhaps they simply felt someone else on the medical staff was responsible for what occurred. It can be a struggle for attorneys to locate the correct party in these types of lawsuits, but that does not mean the litigants will be unable to prevail.

When the woman lying on the operating table mentioned to the surgical staff that she smelled something burning, she was told that she had "nothing to worry about." Only later did she discover what occurred.

Though there may be inherent risks in surgery, being set on fire should not be one of them.

Source: Daily Mail, "Doctor cleared of malpractice after pregnant patient catches FIRE on his operating table," Oct. 27, 2012

  • Types of surgical errors are all too common. To learn more, please visit our Pennsylvania medical malpractice website.

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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