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Severely Burned Patient Sues Physicians, Hospital

Electrocautery device ignited oxygen that had built up around her face.

Published: January 5, 2015

A patient who was severely burned during a 2010 surgery has filed negligence charges against a North Carolina hospital and several caregivers, and the state's highest court has ordered the hospital to make all internal documents related to the case available to the patient's lawyer.

The patient, who was under general anesthesia, was having suspected cancerous tissue removed from her face when surgeon Saira Saini, MD, activated an electrocautery device, igniting oxygen that had escaped from under the patient's face mask and built up under drapes around her face. The patient suffered first- and second-degree burns on her face, head, neck, upper back, right hand and tongue.

The suit names Dr. Saini, Carolina Plastic Surgery of Fayetteville (N.C.), Fayetteville-based Cumberland Anesthesia Associates, anesthesiologist Victor Kubit, MD, and 2 nurse anesthetists, in addition to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, also in Fayetteville, where the fire occurred.

The hospital had fought to withhold certain documents, including a root-cause analysis, quality care reports and notes made by its risk manager, arguing that state law shielded them as confidential. But last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the hospital's argument, upholding a superior court judge's order that the hospital turn them over as part of the discovery process.

Calls by Outpatient Surgery Magazine to Drs. Saini and Kubit and to the hospital were not returned.

Jim Burger

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