June 1, 2018 - Fires continue to be reported in hospital operating rooms across the U.S., despite the fact they are what the FDA refers to as “avoidable events.” Most fires are related to head, neck, tracheal, or upper chest surgeries, and can lead to severe injuries, permanent disfiguration, and even death, the agency said.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured in a surgical fire, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
What is the Fire Triangle?
The fire triangle is a visual tool used to demonstrate that a fire is the result of the following 3 elements coming together at the same time: heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent (usually oxygen). A fire naturally occurs when these elements are present and combined in the right mixture, meaning that fire is actually an event rather than a thing.
FDA says that most surgical fires occur in oxygen-enriched environments, such as when supplemental oxygen is being delivered to a patient, when the concentration of oxygen is greater than 30%. In these situations, materials which are not normally flammable may ignite and burn, according to the agency.
Surgery Fire Statistics
Some surgical fires are reported to the FDA, while others are reported to the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI). However, the sad fact is that many of these events are never reported at all, according to Lila Bahadori, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at the FDA.
The figure of 550-650 surgical fires per year which is often used was extrapolated from ECRI's Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System in 2007. Recent data from 2017 suggests an average of 88-105 surgical fires per year in the U.S., a significant decrease in fires from a decade ago.
Bahadori attributes this decrease in fires to ongoing educational efforts; however, underreporting continues to obscure the true nature of the problem, and a resurgence of these events is a possibility due to a lack of adequate awareness.
“Before any surgical procedure, all members of the surgical team need to know the type of procedure that will be performed and the risks associated with that procedure,” Bahadori said. “Each member of the surgical team should be apprised of which surgical devices will be used during the procedure and if any of these devices increase the risk for harm to the patient.”
FDA is advising physicians and other healthcare providers to take the following additional precautions in order to avoid surgical fires:
- A fire risk assessment at the beginning of each surgical procedure
- Encourage communication among surgical team members
- Safe use of any devices that may serve as an ignition source
- Safe use of surgical suite items that may serve as a fuel source
- Plan and practice how to manage a surgical fire
Do I Have a Surgical Fire Lawsuit?
The Workplace & Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in surgical fire lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you were harmed in a fire that occured in a surgical setting, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a setting by filing a suit and we can help.