Posted on Apr 24, 2012
Dateline: Central New York.
Local news reports a mother from Central New York is suing her hospital because her abdomen caught fire during the birth of her second child.

Two years ago, Kira Reed, a business professor at Syracuse University, was undergoing a C-section at Crouse Hospital. In the midst of her procedure, she smelled her skin on fire but had no idea what it was. She was told there was a "little fire," but only later found out she had suffered a third degree burn.

The culprit was an electric surgery tool, which ignited Duraprep, an alcohol antiseptic that had collected on Mrs. Reed's hospital gown. She later had to endure a second major surgery. Skin grafts replaced most of the burned skin, and a scar was left across her torso. The scar itched for more than a year and her nursing was affected by pain and pain medication. She regrets that she was unable to properly nurse her baby girl, who is now a healthy two-year-old.

The hospital admits the antiseptic was known to be dangerous because of warnings from manufacturers and the FDA. However, hospital officials claim they reacted swiftly to the emergency. They also stopped using Duraprep and they are in the process of creating an educational video, due to be completed by the end of the month.

In this situation, we would argue a legal theory known as "Res Ipsa Loquitur," which literally means 'the thing speaks for itself'. When a patient undergoes surgery and is not in control of the events, the hospital staff has total control of the environment. She was supposed to have a cesarean section to deliver her child, but comes out with third degree burns to her belly.
The Belly injury is not something that should have happened. In that instance, we argue that it's not necessary to bring in a medical expert to show there were departures from good care. We would claim that the injury would not have happened 'but-for' the hospitals' negligence or carelessness. In addition, since the patient had an epidural, she did not cause or contribute to her own injuries.


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Gerry Oginski
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