A fire that broke out during a cardiac pacemaker implantation surgery has resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the hospital, a doctor and an anesthesiologist.
Selah Schultze had entered Texoma Medical Center in Texas on June 8, 2009 to have a pacemaker implanted. During the surgery, a fire erupted that left burns on her face, head, neck, chest, and right breast.
According to the lawsuit, ” a cauterizer being used by Dr. Robert Wilcott ignited the fire, which was exacerbated by Dr. Villareal supplying Schulze with too much oxygen. The family claims that another factor in Schulze’s injuries was that she was wiped down with a flammable skin prep solution that should have been allowed to dry before surgery began.”
As a result of the fire Ms. Schultze endured a number of plastic surgeries as well as a second pacemaker implant surgery. She remains permanently scarred as a result of the fire.
It’s estimated that between 550 and 650 such fires occur each year.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists has released recommendations on actions hospitals can take to reduce the risk of surgical fires. These steps include:
Perform regular operating room fire drills, which less than half of all U.S. hospitals currently conduct.
Improve communications between surgeons and anesthesiologists, such as doctors announcing when they plan to use an electrosurgical tool, so the anesthesiologist can temporarily lower the oxygen supply.
Expand training and education of medical staff on awareness and prevention of fires during surgical procedures.
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