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She Went in for Surgery, and Her Body Ignited

An awful story out of Romania involving a 66-year-old cancer patient
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2019 2:55 PM CST
Updated Jan 4, 2020 10:30 AM CST

(Newser) – If you're having surgery in the near future, you may want to skip this one: A woman died in Romania one week after her body was accidentally set on fire during an operation. The BBC reports the pancreatic cancer patient was being treated at the Floreasca Hospital in Bucharest on Dec. 22. An alcohol-based disinfectant was used on the 66-year-old—as was an electric scalpel, a "prohibited" combination, per a government health official. When the two made contact, the woman "ignited like a torch," the AFP quotes a Romanian politician as saying.

A nurse doused the woman with a bucket of water, but 40% of her body had been burned. She died Sunday. Health minister Victor Costache says there will be an investigation into the "troubling episode," which is shining a light on weaknesses in Romania's health system. The BBC notes Romania spends less on health care per resident than any other EU country, has Europe's highest child mortality rate, and struggles with a shortage of doctors and updated medical equipment. (Read more medical errors stories.)

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