ONE PATIENT was left traumatized when his body caught fire and scorched his insides halfway through the operation.
Mark, 52, went to hospital for a routine abscess removal – but woke up to the news a freak accident at the theater had started a terrible fire.
A diathermy device used to stop bleeding caused a swab to catch fire – before flames burned through his exposed flesh, Mark explained.
It took Mark – not his real name – over a year to recover from his horrific injuries – and the emotional scars they caused.
Mark told the Sun: “[A nurse] came over and said there had been an incident at the theater. That I was set on fire
“I didn’t understand what she meant, but later I was taken to a ward and the surgeon came to see me.
“He started chatting and then said, ‘Oh, you got burned.'”
It was only later that Mark discovered the machines catching fire.
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He believes the flames went unnoticed at first because they burned blue against the blue medical curtains.
The OR staff spent 20 minutes dousing him with water, but by the time he was wheeled out of the OR he had suffered horrible burns.
Nurses who helped him recover were “brilliant,” he said.
But his worst moment came when the surgeon visited him to check if he would need skin grafts.
“I overheard him talking to one of the nurses and saying, ‘I think I got away with it.’
“I couldn’t believe what he just said. I was horrified. He only thought about his own career.”
It took Mark a year to recover from the physical injuries he sustained.
During this time, he had to take extended sick leave from his job as a caregiver for adults with learning disabilities.
“I pretty much switched off,” he admits.
Mark recently settled his claim for an undisclosed amount. He’s not the only person to have died in a fire accident.
Between 2008 and 2018, 37 cases were recognized by NHS trusts across the UK.
But from 2009 to 2019 it paid out almost £14million in compensation payments and legal fees.
Fires like these are often fueled by leaking oxygen – and are caused by faulty machinery or spark-producing equipment.
Activists are concerned that UK hospitals are lagging behind other countries in recording surgical fires and implementing protocols to reduce their frequency and severity.
Operating room nurse Kathy Nabbie has spent the last five years raising awareness of the threat of surgical fires to colleagues.
In 2017 — after hearing about a woman in Oregon, U.S., suffering severe burns when her face was set alight during surgery — she created a simple safety checklist.
I pretty much switch off.
Their fire risk assessment tool allowed colleagues to check for the presence of elements that together could cause a fire outbreak.
These ranged from using an alcohol-based skin antiseptic when preparing the patient to whether to use electrosurgical devices or fiber optic lights.
A score of three or four was considered high risk.
Regardless of the score, the FRAS tool required staff to inform the consulting surgeon prior to the start of the procedure, and the score should also be documented in the patient record.
But senior staff didn’t follow through on the initiative, and – when a surgical fire actually broke out three months later – Kathy learned that her laminated checklist had simply been placed in a drawer.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “After that, they started using it, but why on earth would it have taken a real fire to convince them?”
Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK patient safety charity, said: “At our charity we have seen the devastating impact that surgical fires have on people.
“Their suffering is compounded by the knowledge that these events are entirely preventable if existing guidelines and protocols are followed.
“It adds another insult to injury when they learn that this issue is not being given the priority it deserves and in many cases the incidents are not even being reported.
“Surgical fires should be classified as a ‘never event’ along with other entirely preventable incidents that result in serious injury and death.”
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8616503/body-caught-on-fire-surgery/ In the middle of the operation, my body caught fire