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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blue flames shot up from her midsection: A surgical error

During her gallbladder surgery at a hospital on Boston's north shore four years ago, a flash fire ignited on the abdomen of Antoinette DiPhillipo.

Immediately after the gallbladder surgery, her surgeon had rubbed an alcohol-based cleaning solution on her abdomen to help prevent post-op infections, wiped it clean, and then decided to remove a mole there with a hot cautery instrument. Blue flames immediately shot up from her midsection – "similar to a flambé," the surgeon told the state public health investigators. The sterile draping also ignited.

Antoinette suffered painful first- and second-degree burns, even though Operating Room staff had quickly patted down the flames and pulled off the flaming sterile drapes.

All surgery is risky. Specify beforehand what your surgeon should and should not operate on.

Browse similar stories via the index at the very bottom of this page, or read another gallbladder surgery story.

Thanks to the Boston Globe for this story.

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