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What could cause a surgical fire to ignite?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2015 | Surgical Errors

Many people are already aware of the common mishaps that can occur during a surgical procedure. For example, it is possible for a doctor to leave a surgical tool or sponge in a patient after completing an operation. You may have also heard of instances of wrong site surgeries in which patients had the wrong body parts operated on, or even removed.

But what you might not know is that surgery-related injuries can also be due to fire. Perhaps this sounds far-fetched. After all, what could possibly catch fire in an operating room? Well, as the FDA website describes, the surgical process often involves the use of three elements that, when combined improperly, could produce a skin-burning flame.

The three elements in question are oxygen, a fuel source and heat. These three things can form what is known as a “Fire Triangle.” Alcohol found in skin cleaners can serve as a fuel source in a Fire Triangle. After a patient is prepped, it is important that the cleaners be dried prior to surgery. As for oxygen, it is sometimes issued to patients in concentrated form. And the heat could be generated by lasers, tissue cutting tools and other equipment.

In the right conditions, it may only take a spark to ignite a flame. Operating room fires can cause serious injuries. However, if a surgical team takes the necessary precautions and communicates effectively, then fires can be prevented. Therefore, doctors and other team members should possess an awareness of potential fire threats. They should also know how to properly combat a fire should one break out.

If you are ever burned during the course of an operation, you might desire to seek compensation for your injuries and medical expenses. An Arizona surgical errors attorney could conduct an investigation to help determine what caused the fire that hurt you. With this information, you may be able pursue a medical insurance claim or even file a malpractice suit.