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Girl catches fire in hospital, possibly due to hand sanitizer

Many of us in Michigan may have heard the very disturbing news story that was reported today involving a young girl who was injured in a fire at a hospital earlier this month. The girl, 11, was a patient at the children's hospital in Oregon and on Feb. 2 she somehow caught fire in her hospital room. She reportedly suffered serious burns on as much as 12 percent of her body.

The cause of the fire has now been linked to flammable hand sanitizer that may have been ignited by static electricity. The local fire marshal's office has not yet determined the official cause of the fire.

The young girl was diagnosed with kidney cancer about six years ago, but that day she was being treated for a head injury she suffered after falling at school.

When the girl caught on fire, her dad was sleeping in the hospital room. She ran out into the hallway screaming, awaking her dad who rushed into the hallway to smother the flames. Two hospital staff members also helped to put the fire out.

Although it is reportedly very rare for hand sanitizer--which can contain as much as 60 percent alcohol--to cause a fire, it has happened before in a hospital.

A nurse who had just put on hand sanitizer caught fire when she came into contact with a spark from an oxygen meter in 2006.

In this incident, the girl had reportedly put on hand sanitizer and was sitting on her hospital bed when something sparked a flame. It has been reported that static electricity can be created from sheets and plastic bedcovers, or furnishings.

It is unclear whether the hospital or another party may be held liable for this terrible incident. Often, when someone is injured due to a defective or dangerous product or a medical mistake, it is possible to pursue a personal injury or medical malpractice claim in order to recover compensation.

Source: NBC News, "Hand sanitizer may have ignited hospital fire that hurt girl, 11" JoNel Aleccia, Feb. 19, 2013

  • Our Ann Arbor law firm handles medical malpractice claims as well as other types of personal injury law. For more information, please visit our Medical Malpractice page.

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