Romanian woman dies after being set alight during operation

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Cancer patient's death sheds light on country's struggling health system

Dec 30, 2019

December 30, 2019



A female cancer patient died after being set on fire during a hospital operation in Romania, the Health Ministry said Monday.

The woman, 66, who had pancreatic cancer, died on Sunday after suffering burns to 40 per cent of her body.

Surgeons on December 22 used an electrical scalpel after the patient was treated with an alcohol-based disinfectant.

The patient "ignited like a torch", politician Emanuel Ungureanu said on his Facebook page, quoting medical staff at the capital's Floreasca hospital.

A nurse threw a bucket of water on to the woman to stop the fire from spreading.

The case has renewed pressure on the country's ailing health system. The Health Ministry pledged to investigate the "unfortunate incident".

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

The victim's family said the medical staff had spoken of an accident but declined to offer details.

Despite some improvements with increased funding, Romania's hospital system still has dilapidated equipment and a shortage of doctors, and finds itself at the heart of repeated scandals, AFP reported.

After a 2015 nightclub fire that killed 64 people – 26 on site and 38 later – a former health minister was accused of having delayed, and even blocked, the transfer of burn victims abroad.

The 38 died in ill-equipped Romanian hospitals. An inquiry is continuing.

Updated: December 31, 2019 08:22 AM

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