After spraying the patient with surgical alcohol to disinfect an open would, they then began to use an electrical scalpel, which unfortunately ignited the fluid.
"We are talking about a rare but very unfortunate incident," said Dr Rolf Busund, clinical manager at the University Hospital of Northern Norway, where the operation took place. "This event is a clear reminder that although our procedures are very good, such things still happen."
He said that ignition was a known risk when using electrical scalpels in conjunction with disinfectants.
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"During my 25 to 26 years at the hospital, I've never heard of a similar incident. However, the literature says that the use of disinfectants with diathermy can cause ignition. Last year there were some 100 instances of this in the United States."