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Investigation launched into death of Chinese teenager following allergic reaction to anaesthesia during plastic surgery

Posted: 28/01/2019

A young woman of 19 has sadly passed away from a rare complication following a rhinoplasty that was carried out at a hospital in Southwest China. Xia Lisha, a nursing student, suffered from malignant hyperthermia during her elective rhinoplasty at Li Mei Kang Plastic Surgery Hospital earlier this month.

Malignant hyperthermia (also known as MH) is a rare reaction to anaesthesia which causes high fever, muscle spasms and an increased heart rate. After showing signs of these symptoms during her procedure, Xia was taken to a nearby hospital but passed away shortly afterwards.

Xia’s mother confirmed that her daughter had been saving up for the surgery for over a year and told Chinese media that she ‘just wanted to be pretty’.

MH is an inherited disease that causes a patient’s body temperature to rise when general anaesthetic is administered and affects around 1 in 5,000 to 50,000 patients. The problem can be treated if spotted quickly enough during surgery, but this does not necessarily indicate that the care provided by the hospital was of a poor standard.

While the clinic where Xia’s surgery was performed is reported to be one of the largest and most reputable in the country, the provision of plastic surgery in China in general has been widely recognised as a problem. China Daily, an English-language newspaper in China, reports that the National Health Commission in China has recently been investigating unregulated cosmetic clinics. The Commission has considered over 2,700 cases of cosmetic surgery violations in the past year.

Xia’s death has been widely reported by Chinese media and an investigation has now been launched into her death. It is reported that a settlement agreement has already been reached between Xia’s family and the hospital.

Victoria Johnson, an associate in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team, who specialises in cosmetic surgery claims, said: “It is so sad to hear of this young girl’s death. While malignant hyperthermia is a very rare disease, it is important to remember that every surgery comes with an inherent risk, particularly those procedures that involve general anesthetic. Decisions to undergo cosmetic surgery are not usually taken lightly and anyone considering a procedure should discuss in detail with their doctors any potential complications and risks before undergoing elective surgery. Patients should be particularly careful when considering surgery outside the UK, given that standards can differ greatly, and follow-up care may not be as easily available as it is in the UK.”

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