NYU Langone Medical Center was investigated by the state after a patient caught fire during surgery; the facility was cited due to lapses in safety procedures and communication. The fire took place in December 2014 when a medical instrument accidentally reacted with the patient’s oxygen and sparked a fire. The Department of Health inspected the hospital and declared an “immediate jeopardy” situation due to the gaps in safety procedures and communication. The New York Post was able to obtain the report on the incident through a Freedom of Information Law request, however the report was heavily redacted.
The name of the patient, nature of surgery, and type of instrument that caused the fire were not revealed in the report, making it unclear as to what injuries the patient sustained. The operating room staff told investigators that a fire-risk assessment was conducted prior to the surgery, but they did not provide any details of the strategies or actions of prevention that were discussed. The operation room fire occurred at the beginning of December, but there was no evidence that the hospital took remedial steps to implement prevention protocols until the after the state inspection later that month.
The state report says the hospital took action on December 30, 2014 by 7 pm, a little more than an hour after the inspection. New plans of prevention included changing the oxygen delivery method during surgeries that pose a higher risk for fire. The hospital also reportedly provided additional training to the staff after the incident.
The FDA has found that fires occur in operating rooms between 550 to 650 times a year in the United States. A higher concentration of oxygen is present in the air in an operating room when oxygen is given to patients through a mask or nasal tube. This can and does result in dangerous situations for patients and operating room staff.