Another Oxygen Mask Catches Fire During Surgery: Possible Negligence Suit

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As reported by Fox News, last week Tommy Beams (Seattle, Washington) went into surgery to get a bump removed from his head. What he thought would be a short- routine procedure, has become a nightmare. During the procedure, his oxygen mask burst into flames while he was under anesthesia. Tommy believes the fire was ignited by a cauterizing tool used during surgery, but the hospital is still investigating the cause.

“It’s just surreal, to see skin melted off your face, and look in the mirror and see chunks of skin hanging from your face, it’s not a pretty sight,” exclaimed Tommy. He describes the feeling of being burned as extremely painful, and is brought to tears on a daily basis. The burns on his face should be healed in about a year according to doctors, but I believe the horrific events will haunt him for the rest of his life. One tends to always have second thoughts before going into surgery, but you never expect such an awful experience to happen to you.

The sad thing is, this was the second time an accident like this has occurred in a week. A similar situation happened to a 29 year old Florida woman who underwent surgery to get a cyst removed. Her oxygen mask burst into flames and she now has burns on her face and head. She is afraid to show herself to her kids. She doesn’t want them to see what has happened to their mommy. Who is at fault when such a terrible accident occurs? Clearly these hospitals will be liable, but what preventative measures are being done to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

As mentioned earlier, the hospitals will most likely be liable for the accident. Tommy will probably end up suing for negligence, and possibly malpractice, and who could blame him? Tommy’s quality of life has permanently taken a turn for the worse because of this. If indeed Tommy does plan on taking this to court, in order to be successful, he will have to prove three things. First, he must prove that the event would not have normally occurred in the absence of negligence. Next, that the defendant (hospital or doctors) had exclusive control over the instrumentality that caused the injury. Finally, Tommy must prove that he himself did not contribute to the accident in any way.

Hopefully the hospitals investigate and get to the bottom of what is causing these fires so they can prevent such a thing from happening to anybody else. Twice in just one week is twice too many times for such a tragic thing to have occurred.