<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 21, Issue 3, September 2013

Rom J Leg Med21(3)173-176(2013)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

Medicolegal aspects of surgical diathermy burns: A case report and review of the literature

S. Demircin, F. Aslan, Y. Karagoz, M. Atilgan

Abstract: Diathermy plays an integral part in most operations, either for dissection or coagulation, and it is used on a regular basis by surgeons of all specialties. Even though modern diathermy equipment is considered to be safe, accidents still do happen. These accidents particularly occur if the operation is performed in emergency situations in which the patient’s clinical condition is urgently fatal and the members of the team could only focus to the surgical area. The false steps in monopolar diathermy application cause a situation called the diathermy burns. In this report we present the case of a man who had acute chest pain due to rupture of aortic aneurism. While he was being taken into operation, cardiopulmonary arrest developed. He was resuscitated intra operatively and the operation was completed. After this operation burns on the anterior surface of the right hand, elbow and the distal forearm were noticed. We wanted to emphasize that accidental diathermy burns can cause unsightly scarring that limits motion in affected joints or function of other tissues and review the literature to explain possible causes and dealing with this kind of situation in the medicolegal aspects.
Keywords: diathermy, diathermy burns, electrosurgery, electrocautery, malpractice.

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