Local Coverage

Apr 23, 2013 10:46 PM by Josh Breslow

Family Says Hospital Patient's Face Caught Fire During Surgery

Family members of a Knox County woman say a medical procedure turned into a nightmare when the patient's face caught fire during surgery.

The niece of 55-year-old Clara Brewer told LEX 18 that Brewer underwent a temporal lobe biopsy at Knox County Hospital late last week and when the doctor used a cauterizer to close a wound, there was a dangerous reaction with the oxygen that was also in use.

"I guess it threw a spark, hit the oxygen, and it set her face on fire," described Brewer's niece, Phyllis Dickerson. "She had third-degree burns. Her eyes were swollen shut... I just started crying because it didn't even look like her."

According to Brewer's family, she was taken to University Of Kentucky Hospital, where she spent several days in the burn unit.

"I'm just absolutely scared to death. Is she gonna be okay? I knew she had to be in pretty bad shape or they wouldn't be sending her to UK," said Dickerson. "I've never heard anything like this. And most of the people that have been involved with this, they've never heard of anything like this, either."

LEX 18 reached out to representatives with Knox County Hospital. A spokesperson declined to comment, only saying there was an incident and that an internal investigation is being conducted.

"She went through a lot of pain and suffering and she's got a road ahead of her. This is not over yet," said Dickerson.

Brewer's family said she is home recovering but remains at risk for infection. They add that it's unclear if this incident has caused any permanent damage.

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