Romanian cancer victim dies after ‘igniting like a torch’ during botched hospital operation
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Romanian cancer victim dies after ‘igniting like a torch’ during botched hospital operation

A woman died after being set on fire during a hospital operation in Romania, the country’s health ministry confirmed this week.

The pancreatic cancer patient died after suffering burns to 40 per cent of her body when surgeons used an electrical scalpel - having already treated her with an alcohol-based disinfectant.

Contact with the flammable disinfectant caused combustion and the patient “ignited like a torch”, lawmaker Emanuel Ungureanu said on his Facebook page, citing medical staff at Bucharest's  Floreasca urgent care hospital.

The health ministry vowed to investigate the “unfortunate incident”.

Prohibited 

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“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 told Romanian media they hadn't been told of "the gravity of the situation" or the details of what had happened - only that it was "an accident".

"We found out some details from the press, when they were broadcast on TV stations," they said. "We aren't making accusations, we just want to understand what happened."

Romania spends the least on its healthcare system of any EU country, has the highest child mortality rates on the continent and a persistent shortage of medical staff.