View Full Version : Illinois woman dies after catching fire during surgery

09-18-2009, 12:40 AM
"I would Imagine her family will litigate and Win lots of money !"

ST. LOUIS A southern Illinois woman died after being severely burned in a flash fire while undergoing surgery, a rare but vexing dilemma in operating rooms. Janice McCall, 65, of Energy, Ill., died Sept. 8 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., six days after being burned on the operating table at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion, Ill., her family's attorney said.

Attorney Robert Howerton said he had requested medical records from the Marion hospital and that he had few details about what happened. He declined to say why McCall was having surgery.

The Tennessee state medical examiner's office said McCall died from complications of thermal burns and classified her death as accidental.

"The family is in shock and suffering their grief," Howerton said Thursday. "Every family has an anchor, and she was it. They're really just devastated."

Heartland said in a statement only that "there was an accidental flash fire in one of the hospital's operating rooms," injuring a patient before being immediately extinguished. The hospital didn't say how the fire started, but it said, without elaborating, that it was responding with "necessary and appropriate measures."

Heartland declined to comment further on the case, citing the family's request for privacy and federal laws barring the public release of patient medical information.

Surgical flash fires are most often are sparked by electric surgical tools when oxygen builds up under surgical drapes. They occur an estimated 550 to 600 times a year a tiny fraction of the millions of surgeries performed in the U.S. annually and only kill about one or two people each year, said Mark Bruley, vice president for accident and forensic investigation at the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit health research agency.


09-18-2009, 10:02 AM
Geoffrey Fieger won a butt-load of money out of a local Michigan hospital for a similar thing.

09-18-2009, 10:26 AM
They told her to avoid alcohol for 24 hours before surgery, but evidently she didn't listen..

09-18-2009, 10:48 AM
They told her to avoid alcohol for 24 hours before surgery, but evidently she didn't listen..
These things are usually caused by static electric discharge into an oxygen filled surgical tent that flashes into flames .Her lungs were filled with oxygen and the flames would sear her lungs and burn her throat .They try to keep everything grounded or at least at the same electrical potential but sometimes static builds up .All of the electrical surgical instruments are GFI protected but that is only part of the problem .Everything they wear builds up static and with all of those flammable gases around things like this happen.