When a woman goes into the hospital to deliver her baby she does not expect to suffer third degree burns during her cesarean section. That is what happened to one woman in Syracuse. However, in the medical malpractice case that came out of this incident, the Onondaga County jury found in favor of the physician.
The jury rejected Kira Reed’s claim that her obstetrician was negligent and that this negligence resulted in her abdomen catching fire during her cesarean section two years ago. The obstetrician, Dr. Stephen Brown contended that since he was not responsible for prepping Reed for surgery, he was therefore not negligent, and not responsible for the injury. The jury favored the doctor’s claim.
When Reed commenced the medical malpractice action she claimed that Dr. Brown and the nurses at the hospital failed to follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedures in using the alcohol-based antiseptic that was applied to her skin when she was prepared for surgery. The fire started once the doctor began to cut incisions for the cesarean section. Reed suffered from a third degree burn on her side that was seven inches long and five inches wide. The baby was not harmed. When the burns were examined by a plastic surgeon he compared them to burns similar to those he had seen on napalm victims.
An out of court settlement was reached between Reed and the hospital but the amount was not disclosed. Reed stated that the hospital’s settlement was a fair representation of their fault since she believed that the hospital was fifty percent responsible for her injury and the doctor was responsible for the other half. During pre-trial depositions there was testimony by nurses and an anesthesiologist that they had not had any training in how to prevent surgical fires while using the antiseptic. Hospital staff did not even know that the antiseptic could catch fire.
The company that produces the antiseptic solution had warned medical professional months before the incident that there were fire dangers associated with the use of product and how to prevent surgical fires. However, since the hospital staff that administered the antiseptic did not even know that it was possible for the antiseptic to catch fire they did not know it was necessary to take precautions to prevent the fire. That hospital staff that administers the antiseptic did not know of the harm that it could case is something that should be addressed.
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