Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

Preparing for the arrival of a baby is exciting, but sometimes frightening if you don't know what to expect. Most mother's who have been through child birth understand the process and pain that you go through, but in the end it's all worth it. Now, imagine a freak accident during your cesarean section that leaves you with a third-degree burn on the side of your stomach. This unfortunate incident happened to a woman in 2010 and she is now suing the doctor and hospital for medical malpractice.

The incident occurred in March 2010 during her cesarean-section delivery. During the procedure, the woman said that she smelled smoke and her mother, who was beside her daughter during the delivery; saw a flame shooting up from her daughter's left side. The doctor saw the flame and patted it and put it out. He told the patient there was nothing to worry about and that there had been a small fire.

Those words were not very comforting to the mother. She worried about the safety of her baby and didn't really know what had caught fire until her anesthetic wore off. Luckily, the baby was not harmed, but the mother had a large, painful third-degree burn on her side.

The mother, 42, is now suing the doctor and the hospital for medical malpractice, claiming that the doctor and the nurses failed to follow procedures for using an alcohol-based antiseptic that was applied to her skin in preparation for the cesarean-section.

The victim in the case is not suing the manufacturer because the company had issued a warning to hospitals about the solution's flammability and gave specific instructions on how to prevent a surgical fire. Nurses and the anesthesiologist testified in depositions that they had not been trained in how to prevent surgical fires when using the antiseptic. The manufacturer warned users that the antiseptic needs to be dry before beginning a procedure and several of the nurses in this case thought that the woman's gown may have been soaked in the solution, thus sparking the fire.

The hospital does take responsibility for the incident, but does not feel it was negligent.

Two years later and the victim still suffers from discomfort from the burn and the area is still numb. She did have plastic surgery to repair the damage.

Source:, "Woman's abdomen catches fire during C-section, as surgical tool ignites antiseptic," John O'Brien, April 1, 2012

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