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Flammable antiseptic and negligence results in fire and burn

A woman is pursuing a medical malpractice claim against a hospital for a third-degree burn she suffered when doctors and nurses failed to follow industry standards when using flammable antiseptic during a cesarean-section 

In March 2010, a woman went into the hospital from for a cesarean-section delivery. While under anesthetic, she started to smell something after her doctor made the incision. When she told the doctors, "I smell burning," her mother, who was sitting next to her, agreed, and said that she saw smoke.

Then there was a flame at which point they were told by the doctors and nurses not to worry, even though they were concerned about the baby.

The doctors continued with the C-section and delivered a healthy baby girl, meanwhile, the mother-patient had suffered a severe third-degree burn on her abdomen. A plastic surgeon reported that the burn was similar to what he had seen in napalm patients.

The victim is now pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital. According to the complaint, the doctor failed to follow the manufacturer's recommended procedures for using alcohol-based antiseptic. During depositions the nurses testified they had never been trained to prevent surgical fires.

The lawsuit does not name the manufacturer as a defendant because the company appropriately issued a warning about the solution's potential flammability. It is believed that the fire was caused by a spark from the electrical cautery tool used to make the incision, which ignited the antiseptic on the patient's skin.

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

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