Indiana Applies Res Ipsa Doctrine in Fire Case

Indiana is not known as a particularly progressive state when it comes to tort law (or anything else for that matter).

But not even Indiana could deny a plaintiff the use of the res ipsa doctrine when the plaintiff caught on fire during surgery.

You read that right.

The plaintiff was under general anesthesia and a spark from the Bovie ignited the blow-by oxygen and the plaintiff was burned.  The court re-affirmed a prior case that said that "[c]ommon sense tells us that injury to the patient from a fire in the operating room is not a frequent or expected outcome of surgery" and that "[w]hile mere use of the electrocautery unit combined with the use of supplemental oxygen may not itself fall below the standard of care, it is easily understandable to the common person that careless use of the two could cause a fire and result in bodily injury."

The case is Cleary v. Manning, No. 18A02-0707-CV-599 (Ind. Ct. App.4/18/08).  Read the opinion here.