A patient’s face caught fire during surgery, leaving her with ‘burnt black’ skin, and now an injured nurse is suing Melbourne’s Sunshine Hospital.

A patient's face caught fire during surgery, leaving her with 'burnt black' skin, and now an injured nurse is suing Melbourne's Sunshine Hospital.

A hospital is being sued by a nurse who saw a patient’s face catch fire during surgery, leaving the elderly woman with ‘burnt black’ skin and severe burns to her hands and airways.

Marilyn Espinola suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and panic attacks after witnessing the horrific incident on March 2, 2020.

It happened during a procedure to remove a section of artery for testing at Sunshine Hospital in St Albans, north-west of Melbourne.

Ms Espinola heard screams of ‘fire, fire’ during a bilateral temporal arterial biopsy and then saw the patient’s face burning, which was later found to be caused by oxygen being ignited by a tool used in the procedure.

He then sees the clothes that covered the woman, burst into flames and being thrown to the floor.

Nurse Marilyn Espinola (pictured) was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and panic attacks after seeing a patient’s face catch fire during a procedure.

‘I followed the flame and I hit it. It was like dancing fire up to my knees,’ she told news.com.au.

He said there were screams and shouts as the patient screamed in pain and medical staff told him help was coming.

Ms Espinola said everyone was screaming to turn off the oxygen and she thought everyone in the room would die in an explosion.

His life flashed before his eyes.

He managed to put out the fire, stopping the disaster from getting worse, but could not understand why help had not arrived.

The nurse later thought it might be because the emergency button had only been pushed twice and it might have been mistaken for an accident.

Ms Espinola said the patient was in agony and was falling out of bed before the anesthesiologist caught him.

‘His face was just burnt black, and he smelled…’ she said.

Ms. Espinola ran to get water and fell on her ankle, injuring herself, but didn’t realize the extent of the damage until the adrenaline wore off later that day.

He said the injury was not properly handled by his employer, nor was it included in WorkSafe Victoria’s initial investigation into the incident.

Before reporting her injuries to WorkSafe 18 months later, she said, despite submitting several claim forms.

An initial report by WorkSafe said that the fire was caused by an oxygen leak from the ‘Hudson mask’ that was supplying oxygen to the patient.

A tool used to remove wounds from the patient’s face and neck ignited oxygen, causing burns to his face, hands and airways.

He was taken to the burns unit at The Alfred Hospital and later underwent surgery on his face, neck, jaw and one of his hands.

The horrific incident happened during a procedure to remove a section of artery for tests at Sunshine Hospital in St Albans (pictured) in Melbourne’s north-west.

Suffering from PTSD and having panic attacks three to four times a week, Ms Espinola is unable to return to work, although she has tried hard to do so.

She said she is virtually under house arrest and is dependent on her husband, who retired a year ago, to take care of her.

‘I can’t be alone anywhere, I’m only safe here at home. I don’t drive anymore because triggers are everywhere. I’m triggered every day just by watching TV,’ she said.

Erin Jobling of Shine Lawyers, who represented Ms Espinola, said Sunshine Hospital should have known the bilateral temporal arterial biopsy procedure carried a higher-than-usual risk of surgical fire.

He said the use of supplemental oxygen near equipment used ‘created an elevated fire risk that could have been prevented’.

‘As a result of witnessing this incident, our client is unable to return to her career as a nurse, and her trauma symptoms continue to affect her daily life.’

Ms. Espinola is seeking damages for her past and future loss of earnings and for her pain and suffering.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Western Health, which runs Sunshine Hospital, for comment.

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