Hospital lauches investigation after patient set on fire during surgery

The chief of surgery at New York’s Lincoln Hospital “set a patient on fire” during an operation, causing severe burns on the man’s neck and chest, The Post has learned.

Dr. Jay Yelon was performing a tracheotomy on April 19 to insert a breathing tube when his electronic scalpel, which gives off tiny sparks, came close to the patient’s oxygen supply, igniting a “minor explosion,” hospital insiders say.

Before the fire was extinguished, unconscious Enrique Ruiz suffered second-degree burns on his neck and chest. He awoke from sedation in searing pain.

“I feel like my chest was on fire,” Ruiz, 52, told his brother, Amauri.

Sources at the South Bronx hospital charge a whitewash, saying Yelon failed to mention the patient’s burns in a post-surgery report; he claimed the flames were extinguished with “no danger to the patient.”

“I don’t know anything about it,” Yelon repeatedly told The Post, refusing to answer any questions or acknowledge his role.

Such mishaps that harm patients must be reported immediately to the state Health Department. Spokesman Peter Constantakes first said the Lincoln incident was reported as harmless, but later confirmed, “There was a fire and burns. We’re looking into it.”

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