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IV Drip Containing Formaldehyde Instead of Saline Kills Russian Woman, 28

Staff reportedly tell investigators they "did not read the name on the vial."

Published: April 11, 2018

Ekaterina Fedyaeva DEADLY MEDICATION ERROR Ekaterina Fedyaeva, 28, reportedly received an IV drip in the OR that contained formaldehyde instead of saline.

A 28-year-old Russian woman was "embalmed alive" when OR staff accidentally put her on an IV drip that contained formaldehyde instead of saline solution.

Ekaterina Fedyaeva, 28, entered a hospital in Ulyanovsk, Russia, last month to have her ovarian cysts laparoscopically removed so she could become pregnant, per reports. But the routine procedure went horribly wrong when instead of administering saline solution, the surgical team mistakenly gave Ms. Fedyaeva formalin, a solution that contains formaldehyde — which is famously used by embalmers to preserve dead bodies.

Ms. Fedyaeva experienced severe pain and convulsions before falling into a coma. She died 2 days later of multiple organ failure, per reports.

The OR team tried to flush Mr. Fedyaeva's abdominal cavity, but there is no known antidote to formaldehyde poisoning.

"Ingestion can lead to immediate deleterious effects on almost all systems of the body including gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, cardiovascular system and hepato-renal system, causing gastrointestinal hemorrhage, cardiovascular collapse, unconsciousness or convulsions, severe metabolic acidosis and acute respiratory distress syndrome," according to the National Institute of Health.

Incidents of severe formaldehyde poisoning are extremely rare. Staff reportedly told investigators the medication error occurred because they "did not read the name on the vial."

Formalin is usually stored in the OR in small containers, used to preserve tissue specimens headed to the pathology lab.

The local Russian government has reportedly opened a criminal investigation and fired the head doctor and others involved in the operation.

Richard Abowitz


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