When you go to the hospital, you expect to receive quality care. But in some cases, patients leave the hospital worse off than when they went in. A burn injury at a hospital is far more common than you probably think. In fact, surgical fires alone burn as many as 650 patients each year, seriously disfiguring at least 20 to 30 patients, reports NBC News.
How do burn injuries occur in hospitals?
Fires often ignite during surgery as a result of poor practices, defective electrosurgical tools, and flammable oxygen. For instance, a 13-day-old baby sustained burn injuries at a hospital when the bed sheets ignited during heart valve surgery. The burns caused permanent damage to the child’s right hand.
The FDA explains that a surgical fire can occur whenever three elements are present:
- An ignition source, e.g., lasers or fiber optic light sources
- A fuel source, e.g., surgical drapes or alcohol-based skin preparation agents
- An oxidizer, e.g., nitrous oxide or air
However, fires are only one way that patients sustain burns in hospitals.
Other types of burns patients can fall victim to include chemical burns, electrical burns, laser burns, radiation burns (e.g., x-ray burns), and contact burns. Even hot liquid scald burns are a risk. For example, one patient wound up with an infection and severe burns on her vagina and rectum that resulted from a botched gynecological procedure involving overheated saline solution.
What do I do if I sustain burns at the hospital?
The two most important things you need to do if you have suffered burns in the hospital are to treat your injuries immediately and report the event as soon as possible. The treatment you need depends on the severity of the burn itself.
Cleaning the wound, controlling the pain, closing the wound with skin graft surgery if necessary, and keeping a watchful eye on complications are the main goals of burn treatments.
Blisters, redness, and swelling are normal after a burn, but if you experience oozing, excessive pain and swelling, or are having trouble breathing, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Because most serious burns (third- and fourth-degree burns) will cause scarring and possible deformation, you may also want to work with a skilled surgeon and dermatologist to take measures to reduce the effects and appearance of scarring.
In addition, a large number of patients experience deep emotional and psychological trauma after sustaining serious burn injuries (especially if their caretakers caused the burns). You might consider seeking out counseling and therapy to help you through your injury.
You also need to inform your doctor and the hospital administration of what has happened. They need to be aware of your injury, investigate the incident, and deal with it appropriately.
Can I hold someone accountable for my burn injuries?
Hospitals and their staff must meet certain standards when caring for patients. If you suffered burn injuries because a doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional was negligent, or because a piece of equipment was defective, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to hold the responsible party liable for your damages.
Speak with one of our lawyer referral specialists to find a lawyer who can help you. Call 844-549-8774.