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Woman Awarded $5.13 Million After Operating Room Fire During Surgery

OR Fire Victim 1

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On March 2, 2017, a Fairfax County jury awarded a woman $5,134,000 for severe facial, neck, chest, back and shoulder burns and other damages she suffered in an operating room fire at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in December 2013. The fire started when the surgeon used an electrical surgical tool to cauterize a bleed, while oxygen was being administered to the patient, during a routine biopsy to the temple area of her head. The vascular surgeon performing the surgery failed to perform a fire risk assessment before he started the procedure. Had he done so, he would have learned that oxygen was in use. The failure to perform the fire risk assessment directly resulted in 2nd and 3rd degree burns to the woman’s face, neck, shoulders and back. After the fire, the patient was sent to the Washington Hospital Center ICU, followed by the burn unit, and she thereafter spent years undergoing painful treatment for burns and scarring.

By law the cap on medical malpractice recovery is 2.1 million despite the jury verdict.

Lead counsel, Kim Brooks Rodney, Partner at Cohen & Cohen, stated, “Hopefully the verdict will serve to impress upon the legislature that arbitrary caps on compensation in medical malpractice cases are unfair.  What is appropriate is to let the jury decide each individual case, including what is fair compensation for each victim of medical malpractice. All cases are not the same. We hope the jury verdict in this case will serve to improve patient care.”

Parties involved at trial were Plaintiff Beverly Wilson, Defendant Behdad Aryavand, MD (vascular surgeon), and Defendant Cardiac, Vascular & Thoracic Surgery Associates, P.C. (Dr. Aryavand’s employer).  Defense counsel was Cynthia Santoni and Camille Shora with Wilson Elser. The insurance carrier was Med Mutual.

Plaintiff’s experts were Dr. Paul Collier from Pittsburgh and Dr. D. Preston Flanigan from California, both vascular surgeons.

Defense experts were Dr. L.D. Britt from Norfolk and Dr. Martin Evans from Richmond.

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