28 Sep 2020

Surgeon told to apologise after burning patient's stomach

6:31 pm on 28 September 2020

A surgeon has been ordered to take part in safety training and apologise to a patient who suffered deep burns on her stomach during surgery on her uterus.

File photo

File photo Photo: 123RF

A decision from the Health and Disability Commissioner found the surgeon put a woman directly in harm's way when she had surgery at a private hospital to remove fibroids.

The surgeon was using a surgical pencil which emits intense heat and comes with a holster that's meant to be used when the pencil is not in use.

The surgeon placed the pencil on the woman's abdomen instead of in the holster, causing three deep burns.

Former Commissioner Anthony Hill said this put the woman directly in harm's way.

"Placing the diathermy pencil on [the woman's] abdomen, regardless of whether or not the abdomen was covered by a surgical drape, was a departure from the accepted standard of care."

It was recommended the surgeon review her practice in light of the report, attend a Medical Protection Society workshop and provide a written apology to the patient.

She has also been referred to the Medical Council.

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