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Medical Burns: How They Can Happen To You and What To Do If You Fall Victim

Despite great strides made in the medical field nearly every day, one problem continues to plague unsuspecting hospital patients at an alarming rate: medical burns. Medical burns, which can be the result of many factors, may occur in surgery or even in your own hospital bed.

These burns can cost you:

  • Prolonged morbidity (how long a disease continues to affect a specific area of your body)
  • A prolonged stay within the hospital’s confines
  • A significantly higher hospital bill due to your extended stay

Learn more about some of the most common types of medical burns in hospitals all across Georgia as well as what to do if you ever fall victim.

Surgical Burns

Surgical burns occur much too often and through a variety of ways.

Thermal

Thermal burns are one of the most common types of skin destruction patients may face in the operating room.

One major cause for thermal burns is prolonged exposure to the heat from surgical lights. In 2013 and 2014, patients at a hospital in Oregon suffered burns after the hospital staff forgot to change the filters on the halogen lamps, exposing surgical patients to unfiltered UV light.

Thermal burns can also be the result of cauterizing equipment (e.g., equipment used to burn the skin to stop bleeding or prevent infection) or fires.

Chemical

Chemicals used in the operating room can be toxic to your skin and, when interacting with other substances, can cause serious burns.

Sterilizing agents are a major cause of chemical burns.

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is a sterilizing gas commonly used on heat-sensitive operating room equipment. Patients have suffered chemical burn injuries after wearing gowns sterilized by EtO.  

Other solutions, such as those used to prep a patient’s skin can cause burns if medical staff leave them on the skin too long or it pools beneath a wound dressing.

Electrical

Electrosurgical burns are a common cause for burns in the operating room. However, devices like defibrillator paddles and Electrosurgery Units (ESUs) can also be cause for concern. 

Even low direct current voltages from these devices can result in significant damage to a patient’s skin. 

Hospital Burns

Unfortunately, hospital burns do not just happen in the operating room. They can occur in a patient’s hospital room as well.

The main types of hospital burns include:

Thermal

One common cause of thermal burns is prolonged contact with a moderate heat or light source.

Heat sources can include warming pads or hypothermia blankets. Use of these warming pads or blankets can start a fire or cause burns through contact.

Burns from a light source can occur if the light illuminates the tissue for too long or if medical staff did not set the device’s intensity properly.

Chemical

Isopropyl alcohol, most commonly known as rubbing alcohol used to treat minor cuts and wounds, has been known to cause burns to patients.

These burns typically occur once the alcohol combines with gentle pressure and moderate heat from a warming source, such as a hypothermia blanket.

Electrical

Doctors often use electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) machines to run tests that check for problems with the electrical activity of your heart.

While rare, patients who experience burns from ECG cables have during routine procedures have needed anywhere from 10 days to four additional weeks of care to heal from their burns, according to a 2014 study published in the Annals of Burn and Fire Disasters.

What to Do If You Sustain Burns in the Hospital

If you ever find yourself experience burns in a hospital or operating room, it is important that you follow these steps:

  • Document the injury
  • Report the injury to your doctor
  • Seek additional medical care

After you have received treatment for your burns, make sure to gather your medical records and any other evidence of medical malpractice. Then call attorney Jason Schultz to discuss your legal options.

If you are able to prove negligence and demonstrate your damages, you may be entitled to file a claim seeking compensation your loss of time, money, and health.

Call a medical malpractice attorney from the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz for help filing your claim, gathering evidence, negotiating settlements, and taking your case to court if necessary.

Contact Jason today at 404-474-0804.


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