Woman catches on fire during surgery - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Woman catches on fire during surgery

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A great grandmother went under the knife only for something to go horribly wrong, loved ones say.

Her family is now taking action. Adele Bearman, 89, had checked into Holy Cross Hospital for an atrial biopsy. While undergoing the procedure, an oxygen leak on her face mask in combination with electrocautery caused a surgical flash fire in the operating room. The fire burned 25 percent of Bearman's body.

According to Bearman's family, she spent the next five months of her life in the hospital, where she received treatment for her painful burns. Bearman died. Her family said that she died from unrelated issues, but the rest of her life was wasted in the hospital treating the wounds from the burns.

Bearman's loved ones are suing Holy Cross Hospital for damages done to Bearman during the procedure. They are asking for at least half a million dollars in damages.

According to Ira Leesfield, the attorney representing Bearman's family: "While they were doing this rather routine surgery, there was a leak from the oxygen mask into the environment. The surgeon, anesthesiologist, and the hospital employees didn't communicate with each other. There was an explosion. She literally caught on fire in the operating room."

Bearman was burned so badly that she could not open her eyes. According to her family, Bearman "was a joyful, vibrant and energetic individual before being burned. She was a loving mother, a loving grandmother and great grandmother of five children."

"Utter horror, I was devastated, it was horrific, it was utterly horrific," said Bearman's daughter recalling having seen her mother's burns after the surgery.

The family attorney said the hospital and the doctors who performed the procedure need to be held accountable. "This was totally inexcusable. There is no explanation, even though all of the medical defendants have denied responsibility, shockingly."

Holy Cross Hospital made the following statement regarding Bearman's case: "We have served this community with our faith-based ministry for nearly 60 years and treat every patient with reverence. This was an isolated incident and patient safety is a top priority. Due to patient privacy laws, we cannot discuss this specific patient or the details of her care."

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