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Jury: Burns From Surgical Fire During C-Section Isn't Medical Malpractice


Posted on Dec 22, 2012

A jury recently ruled against a medical malpractice suit that claimed a doctor's negligence was responsible for his patient's abdomen catching fire during surgery.

In March 2010, Kira Reed, 43, a professor of business at Syracuse University, entered Crouse Hospital in Syracuse to deliver her baby. Her obstetrician, made the C-section incision just before the patient caught fire and sustained a third-degree burn 7 by 5 inches on her side. A plastic surgeon considered the burn similar to that of napalm victims. Luckily, however, the patient's now-health baby girl was successfully delivered.

Central to the suit is DuraPrep, the alcohol-based antiseptic applied to the patient's skin in preparation for surgery. Its manufacturer, 3M Company, was ordered by the FDA to issue warnings the month before Reed's surgery, instructing users how to prevent surgical fires. The nurses testified they were not trained in preventing DuraPrep-caused fires. One nurse didn't even know DuraPrep was flammable. 

The Onondaga County Supreme Court jury ruled for the physician, who contended he was not responsible for prepping the surgery. Reed had already settled with Crouse Hospital three to four months before the verdict. 

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