Jury sides with doctor after patient catches fire

When soon-to-be mothers in Massachusetts worry about their labor and delivery process, catching on fire is probably the last thing on their minds. But that’s exactly what happened to a New York woman during a cesarean-section surgery in 2010.

Thankfully, the woman’s baby survived the ordeal, but the fire left the woman with serious burn injuries on her side, spanning 7 inches long and 5 inches wide. The fire broke out after the woman’s doctor made the incision for the C-section.

The 43-year-old woman, who is a business professor, sued the hospital and doctor, claiming that negligence caused her serious burn injuries. The lawsuit charged that the doctor and his staff members did not use the antiseptic skin preparation DuraPrep correctly before surgery and that’s why the fire broke out.

The doctor claimed he was not responsible for prepping the woman before surgery, so he should not be held responsible for the fire that broke out. During pretrial depositions, four nurses and an anesthesiologist testified that they had not been trained on how to prevent surgical fires while using DuraPrep.

The woman ended up settling out of court with the hospital, but the claim against the doctor continued to trial. The woman’s lawyer said she believed the hospital and doctor were both 50 percent at fault for the incident.

However, last week, a jury disagreed. The jury held that the doctor had not been responsible for the fire breaking out. Interestingly, the woman did not sue 3M Company, the maker of DuraPrep because 3M issued new warnings about the product’s flammability months before the surgical fire.

Source: The Post Standard, “Jury sides with doctor in lawsuit by woman set on fire during C-section,” John O’Brien, Oct. 26, 2012