Female Cancer Patient Dies After Being Set on Fire During Surgery

A 66-year-old woman who suffered from pancreatic cancer died a week after being set on fire during a surgery, Romania’s health ministry has confirmed, while promising an investigation into this “unfortunate incident.”

The patient died Sunday after suffering burns to 40 per cent of her body. The fire was ignited by surgeons using an electric scalpel, after the woman was prepped with an alcohol-based disinfectant in preparation for the removal of a tumour on Dec. 22.

The incident took place at Floreasca Hospital in Bucharest, where the patient was hospitalized to undergo a surgery on her pancreas. When the electric scalpel was used in close proximity with the flammable substance, combustion happened and her body caught fire.

Romanian politician Emanuel Ungureanu, citing one of the medical staff, said on his Facebook page that the patient “ignited like a torch.”

A nurse threw a bucket of water on the 66-year-old woman to prevent the fire from spreading. The health ministry said it would investigate the “unfortunate incident”, which took place on 22 December.

“The surgeons should have been aware that it is prohibited to use an alcohol-based disinfectant during surgical procedures performed with an electric scalpel,” the deputy minister, Horatiu Moldovan, said.

The victim’s family said medical staff had spoken of an “accident” but declined to offer details.

In 2016, a fire at a Romanian nightclub left 64 people dead, 38 of whom died from later complications; it is alleged the deaths occurred due to poorly equipped Romanian hospitals. An inquiry is still ongoing into a former health minister, who was accused of having delayed or blocked the transfer of burn victims abroad.

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