East Naples Man Sues Hospital After Suffering Second-Degree Burns in Operating Room Fire

An East Naples man is suing NCH Downtown Naples Hospital after he reportedly suffered second-degree burns during surgery to install a pacemaker in 2008. Earlier this month, 72-year-old Frank Komorowski testified that he was burned on his chest, neck, and shoulder while under anesthesia. Komorowski stated he awoke to smell his own skin burning after he heard a nurse’s screams.

Although surgical fires are rare, between 550 and 650 operating room fires occur each year in the United States. In addition to severe burns, surgical fires may cause permanent disfigurement and death. The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation estimates about 65 percent of operating room fires involve a patient’s face, neck, head, and upper body. If a burn reaches the patient’s airway, it is often fatal. The problem is common enough the nation’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began a medical professional education safety initiative designed to combat operating room fires last fall. The FDA also recently held a webinar to teach health care providers how to reduce the risk for surgical fires.

At a recent hearing on Komorowski’s case, an attorney for the hospital argued in Collier Circuit Court that the hospital was not negligent. Instead, she told the court the surgeon who installed the pacemaker caused Komorowski’s injuries. The attorney also argued the hospital could not be held liable because the surgeon was not an employee of the hospital at the time of the fire. An expert for the hospital stated oxygen under a surgical drape likely caused the fire.

Komorowski’s attorney countered the hospital’s arguments by stating it is widely recognized that surgical fires do not occur absent negligence. Although no one was willing to take responsibility for the incident, operating room nurses and Komorowski’s own surgeon reportedly agreed that an alcohol-based antiseptic was not allowed to dry fully before the surgeon began to operate. As a result, an electrical cauterizing device allegedly ignited the fire.

Following the hearing, Judge Hugh Hayes ruled adequate evidence existed to prove hospital negligence. As a result of the judge’s ruling, a jury will soon be tasked with determining the amount of damages Komorowski and his wife will receive from the hospital as a result of his burn injuries.

Each year, many people in Florida are hurt or killed by a health care provider’s negligence. Medical professionals such as surgeons and nurses have a duty to provide their patients a certain level of care. When health care providers make mistakes or fail to provide the required level of care, a patient may file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you were hurt by someone tasked with providing your medical care, you should contact a skilled South Florida medical malpractice attorney to help you protect your rights.

Call Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. at (305) 371-6000 if you or a loved one was hurt by a medical provider. Our hardworking Miami-Dade medical malpractice lawyers possess more than 40 years of combined experience litigating a variety of complex accident, injury, and negligence cases. At Gerson & Schwartz, our capable attorneys are available to assist you in achieving fair compensation based on the severity of your injuries. For a free consultation with a committed personal injury lawyer, contact Gerson & Schwartz through our website today.

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Additional Resources:

East Naples man among hundreds who catch fire each year in operating rooms, by Aisling Swift, naplesnews.com

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