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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oklahoma Woman Set on Fire During Surgery

In November 2009, one Connie Plumlee was approaching the final step in her fight with cancer and she was winning. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had both chemotherapy and surgery. Her breasts had been removed and she had been found free of cancer. Now she was to have breast reconstruction.

She chose one Dr. Brad Garber in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to do it and she showed up at Saint John Medical Center on time for the procedure. In the recovery room, when she awoke from the anesthesia, she found her face bandaged up. A man was standing at the bedside with tears in his eyes. “Do you know what happened?” he asked.

  • “Surgery,” answered Plumlee
  • No, replied the man. “You were burned”

Dr. Garber had used alcohol to swab Plumlee before starting on the procedure. He then turned on a cauterizing tool and that ignited a fire. The curtains around the operating table caught fire and apparently Plumlee’s hospital gown also. The heat melted the breathing tube from the respirator, inserted into her mouth and airway so that she could be given breathing assistance during the surgery.

The inside of her mouth was severely burned. According to Plumlee, Dr. Garber told her that it was just a minor setback, that she would have no scars from it, and to think of it like having a chemical peel for facial rejuvenation.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed

Plumlee was unable to eat or drink because of the damage to her mouth and tongue and the intense pain. Her face and lips are now deformed and she needs daily medical care. After being unable to reach any agreement with Dr. Garber, she and her husband have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Plumlee is a school teacher and has been for 33 years. She was voted Teacher of the Year at two schools in Oklahoma. She and her husband, Jack, have daughters and grandchildren and a strong family life.

Dr. Garber’s attorney has declined any comments. Plumlee’s attorney, Clark Brewster, stated:

  • “One of the things we do in filing a lawsuit, not only try to get compensation for our client and restore some type of wholeness, but also to do good work, to make a change or make it known how this can be prevented."

Have you been injured by a medical mistake? It is not only physicians who can be held liable for their mistakes – nurses, physician’s assistants, pharmicists, and many others in the medical field can also be brought to justice if they fail to follow accepted protocol and end up harming a patient.

To schedule a free case review with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, please contact us today. We have offices nationwide to serve you.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 11:12 AM

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