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Due to the risks of surgical fires, a minor procedure could quickly become a nightmare. Connie Schultz writes in her new column, “Exposing The Horrors Of Surgical Fires”:

Nearly five years ago, 20-year-old Lauren Wargo underwent what should have been a routine surgical procedure to remove a mole on her face.

She woke up in the recovery room unable to see. Her face was wrapped in gauze. Cool water streamed down her cheeks.

She caught only snippets of a nurse’s conversation with her father.

There’s been an accident.

There was a fire.

The next day, Lauren was transferred to the Burn Care Center at Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center, where skilled staff members removed bulbous blisters and scrubbed off charred skin on her face.

Thus began her four-year recovery for an injury that never should have happened.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that as many as 650 surgical fires occur each year in hospitals. The number is probably higher, as only 27 states require the reporting of such fires. Experts argue that all of these fires are preventable with training for surgical staff and proper communication in operating rooms.

Last month, the FDA finally rolled out the “Preventing Surgical Fires” initiative for hospitals.

Lauren wonders what took so long.

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