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Grandmother set on fire by hospital considers legal battle

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

A PENSIONER suffered severe burns in St Mary s Hospital as a laser treating her for cancer overheated and set her on fire. The grandmother needed emergency skin grafts to her chest, right arm and abdomen and has had to undergo two operations as a result o

A PENSIONER suffered severe burns in St Mary's Hospital as a laser treating her for cancer overheated and set her on fire.

The grandmother needed emergency skin grafts to her chest, right arm and abdomen and has had to undergo two operations as a result of what happened.

Francesca Ryder, 74, who is battling liver cancer, was having a procedure called liver ablation, where a laser is fed into the organ via a tube to break up tumours.

The tube is covered in a water-filled jacket to prevent it overheating, but it appears the cooling system was not turned on.

When the tube overheated it set fire to Mrs Ryder's bandages, burning her skin.

A spokesman for St Mary's said: "The trust would like to extend our sincere apologies to Mrs Ryder and her family for this tragic incident.

"Unfortunately during the routine procedure she suffered serious burns. It is believed that this incident was primarily caused by the water cooling system not being in operation during the procedure."

Mum-of-two Francesca is seeking advice about suing the hospital.

Gene Matthews, from firm Leigh Day & Co, said: "This is a terrible incident to occur at any hospital and for anybody to experience it. It is a real concern because she is 74 and a cancer patient. As a result of what has happened she has had to undergo two operations to repair the damage that has been done.

" It is very serious and very worrying for the family. We hope she recovers fully and can get on with her life."

The Paddington-based hospital added: "Immediate action was taken by the trust following the incident and a serious clinical incident investigation was carried out.

"A number of actions have since been introduced, including tightening all safety procedures. The treatment has been suspended until we are satisfied that all stringent checks are in place.

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