An alcohol-based antiseptic–DuraPrep– caught fire when a standard cautery tool touched it during Kira Reed’s cesarean in 2010. (Cauterizing is the surgical practice of burning small areas of tissue to prevent blood loss).
Reed could smell something and saw smoke and was told everything was okay. The doctors quickly patted out the fire–they were immediately concerned with the baby– and delivered the baby, who was completely healthy and unharmed. But Reed has a seven by five inch scar from the third degree burns.
She sued the doctor and hospital for negligence, specifically for not following safety protocols while using DuraPrep. Hospital staff testified that they had no idea DuraPrep could catch fire. The makers of commonly used antiseptic had issued new safety guidelines to prevent (extremely, extremely rare) fires only one month prior to this incident.
Reed reached an out-of-court settlement, but this week a jury rejected claims that the obstetrician– Stephen Brown– was negligent. Apparently these fires are very rare and though the hospital takes responsibility they claim there was no negligence.
The hospital stopped using DuraPrep after this incident but have resumed recently, presumably after thorough staff safety training.
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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