We often hear about things going wrong during a surgery that may lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Sometimes the wrong part of the body may be operated on, tools may be left in the body, and operating rooms may be contaminated causing serious infection in the patient. But patients catching on fire during surgery is something most people have not heard about. Surprisingly, however, as many as 600 people are catching on fire during surgery each year in the as many as 600 people are catching on fire during surgery each year in the United States.

When patients undergo surgery, they are required to sign a release form in which they sign that they are aware of the possible complications that can occur during surgery. Bleeding, heart attack, infection and death are the standard risks in any surgery, but the possibility of a surgical fire is never mentioned. Surgical fires happen when oxygen is flowing and a surgical tool creates a spark that ignites the flammable items around the patient, such as antiseptics, paper, and surgical drapes. Patients’ hair has even caught fire.

It is reported that surgical fires most often take place during head and neck surgeries because of the close proximity of air, heat and fuel.

There are precautions to take to minimize your chances of catching on fire during surgery. You can request that less oxygen be used (or none at all), and you can request a non-alcohol-based skin prep such as Betadyne.