Surgery Fires

The causes of surgical fires are well understood and preventable. Despite this, the FDA reports that approximately 600 or more surgical fires are reported each year. Surgical fires can occur when the three elements of the fire triangle (ignition source, fuel source, and oxidizer) are present and the operating team fails to take reasonable measures to prevent a fire. Missteps include:


  • Failure to conduct a fire risk asssessment at the beginning of the surgery 


  • Failure to use supplemental oxygen safely


  • Failure to use draping techniques or other measures to minimize oxygen near or in the surgical field


  • Failure to prevent pooling of alcohol-based antiseptics during skin preparation


  • Failure to wait for skin to dry from antiseptic application before draping patient


  • Failure to remove alcohol-soaked material from prep area


  • Failure to use surgical equipment safely, e.g. holstering electrocautery instruments instead of placing them on drapes or patient


  • Failure to devise and implement safety plan if fire occurs


If you or a family member have suffered a catastrophic injury or loss due to a surgical fire, contact Bill Maddix, your Minnesota medical malpractice lawyer, for a free consultation.



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Call (612) 418-0263


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