In 2012, a woman underwent laser surgery at a hospital in Washington in order to have polyps removed from her vocal cords. What happened during that surgery was the result of multiple errors by the surgical and anesthesiology team, the Central Washington Hospital and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, and it is shocking. The errors cost the woman her voice, and left her in need of long-term breathing assistance. It also cost those responsible $30 million.
The 55-year-old woman had a breathing tube inserted into her throat during the laser polyp surgery. Something caused the oxygen to ignite, which set that tube on fire.
The injuries caused by the fire were so serious she had to be immediately flown to a separate hospital in Seattle. Since then, she has undergone numerous surgeries and lay recovering in that hospital for months. She still has full mental faculties and the ability to swallow, but she can’t speak and needs long-term care, including assistance with breathing.