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MARION, Ill. — An attorney says a Southern Illinois woman died six days after being accidentally set ablaze during an operation at a Marion hospital.
Concern over such blazes waned after the 1970s, when highly flammable agents such as ether gave way to safer anesthetics.
But worries have mounted in recent years with increased use of electrosurgical devices and the replacement of cloth hospital drapes with those made of more-flammable, disposable synthetic fabric. Bruley's organization has recommended that anesthesiologists stop using 100 percent oxygen and deliver only what the patient needs, perhaps by diluting the oxygen concentration with room air when surgical tools such as electronic scalpels and cauterizers that could ignite a fire are in use.
"What we've been advocating for years is that the open delivery of oxygen under the drapes essentially has to stop," with some exceptions such as cardiac pacemaker surgery or operations involving a neck artery, Bruley said.