An Unfortunate Accident

This news clipping has been doing the rounds:

Is it true? It does have urban-legend qualities to it, but a search of LexisNexis reveals that it was widely reported in April 2002. English-language papers credited the story to the Danish newspaper BT. The surgeon was identified as Jorn Kristensen. The Sun had this line:

Surgeon Jorn Kristensen said of the chain reaction: "No-one considered the possibility."

So, given the specific details, I'm going to say that it appears to be true my hunch is that it's true, but I'll list it as undetermined.

Gross Health/Medicine

Posted on Sun Jul 13, 2008


Electric Knife....
and for a mole no less...
What the hell?
Posted by DJ_Canada  on  Sun Jul 13, 2008  at  08:01 PM
My bet is that this just total complete and utter horsepoo. There are just too many dubious whatsits here.

- "Soaked in surgical spirits"? Yeah, right - they'd swab the area, yes, but not dunk half a litre on there.

- Surgical spirits evaporate fast - in seconds. And the surgeon will administer anaesthetic after the cleaning, so the chances of loads of unevaporated alcohol soaking the area are repote.

- Even if the area were still wet with spirits, alcohol burns fast - slosh it on and set a match to it and I reckon you'd be unlikely to get more than a second or two of flaming pubes.

- If the knife could ignite a fart, and if there was still enough spirit to burn, then it would be likely for the knife to set light to the spirit directly. You think a hospital would use equipment which carries that kind of risk?

- "When I woke up"? General anaesthetic for mole removal? Shit, they don't use that for brain surgery! And how long was that scrotum supposed to have been burning again?

- The the most reputable source on this is the Sun? And 'widely reported' is somehow suggestive of accuracy? Please...
Posted by outeast  on  Mon Jul 14, 2008  at  02:29 AM
"it appears to be true" it's nothing. for that we don't need you.
do your homework or be quite, thank you very much.
Posted by webix  on  Mon Jul 14, 2008  at  02:21 PM
"I can't have sex with my wife," the man said, adding, "I've had to rely solely on handjobs from my receptionist..."

No further comment.
Posted by Hugo  on  Mon Jul 14, 2008  at  11:40 PM
FWIW, the 'original' source on this seems to be this Evening Standard article, which refers to finding the story in an unnamed 'old medical journal' (a marginally differently worded version of this article claimed that the story in the 'old medical journal' was 'originally published in a well-respected Danish journal', also left unnamed).

The fact that even the hopital is missnamed (there's a Kjellerup hospital, but not a Kjellerups hospital) makes me suspicious - as does the fact that this misspelling is universally replicated in all articles about the supposed mishap, even the ones with quotations from the 'victim' and surgeon which wwere not included in the Stadard column. It's also odd that there are no pages anywhere listing both the name 'Jorn Kristensen' and 'Kjellerup', although there are plenty referring to this story if you go with the misspelling 'Kjellerups'.

What's more, 'surgeon Jorn Kristensen' doesn't even seem to exist (at least online): once you screen out replications of this story, the only vaguely medical-sounding Danish Jorn Kristensen to have any kind of web presence seems to be Peder Jorn Kristensen, director of the medical device supplies company Unomedical in Slovakia. (Of course, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absense - but I do wonder how those enterprising journos found him for their quotations!)

Anyway, I'm wasting far too much time on this!
Posted by outeast  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  07:46 AM
Addendum: maybe I was too quick to credit that Standard journalist with unearthing the story: I was going by his claim to have found it reported in a medical journal, as opposed to a mere media source. I never thought to check the date! Looks like his 'old medical journals' must have been 'old copies of the birdseed press' - which I guess makes his 'respected Dutch journal' the Danish tabloid BT. An object lesson in the reliability of journalists?
Posted by outeast  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  08:02 AM
Outeast, go to pubmed and do a search for "kristensen jh"[author] and you'll get a long list of medical articles, many of them in Danish. I'm betting this JH Kristensen is the guy. (Though there also seems to be an Australian JH Kristensen.) Unfortunately, none of the articles list his email address.

Do a google search for "JH Kristensen" and Viborg, and you'll get results listing JH Kristensen as being in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Viborg-Kjellerup County Hospital.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  09:31 PM
I'm a dermatologist in the Navy, and we do use similar equipment. We have a hypercator, which is used to cauterize, not cut, that uses electricity strong enough to ignite a truly epic fart, but we would never use alcohol during that procedure. In fact, our anti-microbial of choice is iodine. I could see a small child born with a congenital mole covering a large portion of the body (it does happen) being removed under general anesthesia due to the size and complexity, I cannot imagine a grown man having delayed such an important procedure.
Also, with 'normal' mole removal, the entire procedure takes 30 seconds at the most, and is called a shave biopsy and bleeding is minimal, no need for the equipment mentioned above, unless it's MOSE surgery, but that's highly unlikely on the buttocks.

Just my two cents.
Posted by Ashley  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  11:35 PM
Oops, that's MOHS surgery, sorry!
Posted by ashley  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  11:36 PM

Where does mole removal come under the remit of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry? (Actually, I found refs listing him as belonging to the Dept of Internal Medicine, but who knows how the hospital is organized?) None of the papers I saw suggested surgery. And again, why do all the articles refer to 'Kjellerups Hospital' if the real institution is 'Viborg-Kjellerup County Hospital'? To me, that suggests that all the stories come from one original report somewhere, written by someone who at the very least didn't do much fact-checking.

[Back after more googlehunting... Dunno why I'm so curious about this.] Well, 'Viborg-Kjellerup County Hospital' seems to be (judging from here) Viborg/Kjellerup Sygehus, actually called Regionshospitalet Viborg (maybe as a result of some rebranding/reorganizing?). It's a difficult place to search, but hereis a staff list for people with 'K' surnames (with email addresses). There's no 'Jorn Kristensen', but there is a Joergen (Jorn doesn't seem to be a variant of Joergen that I can find, but maybe a 'chinese whispers' version of his name?)... FWIW he does seem to be a surgeon, at least.
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Jul 16, 2008  at  03:53 AM
OK, a new approach has been more fruitful: here is the original article from BT (Babelfish it for yourselves - it's pretty typical tabloid fare, complete with a joke about plans to stick a cork in the anal orifice during future operations). This gives the supposed surgeon's full name as 'J
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Jul 16, 2008  at  04:00 AM
Well, I've sent him a polite enquiry. I dare say he won't respond, though...
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Jul 16, 2008  at  04:13 AM
Outeast, I have no idea how you found the original BT article, but I'm impressed. I got as far as going to the BT site, trying a few searches, getting no results, and then I gave up.

The variant spellings of Kjellerup/Kjellerups don't seem significant to me. Foreign words often get misspelled when reported in English.

I think there's a decent chance you'll get an answer from Kristensen, depending on whether he has a sense of humor.

I should change the status of this to "undetermined" but I still have a hunch that it may turn out to be true. The news reports give some verifiable details: a hospital and a surgeon whom the BT reporter apparently talked to. Usually when urban legends are reported as news, you don't get specific details like that. You get "friend of a friend" references instead.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jul 16, 2008  at  08:46 AM
Danish being my first language, I have to say the original BT article looks trustworthy. BT is a tabloid to be sure, but it's not actually THAT bad.

Regarding hospital restructuring - yep, there's been changes of exactly that nature here over the last couple of years (from January 1 2007 to be precise). All the old counties (groups of local councils/municipalities previously responsible for health care) have been replaced by larger (health) regions and some smaller hospitals have merged or been closed.

I'd be happy to provide a better translation of the original story if the Babelfish one is not good enough.
Posted by Carsten Sorensen  on  Sat Jul 26, 2008  at  04:29 PM
Hi Carsten,

A full translation might be overkill, but are there any interesting details in the original article that have been omitted from the English versions?
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Jul 28, 2008  at  11:05 PM
It's a short article so I thought I might as well do it all. Feel free to correct grammar, structure or whatever.

Regarding J
Posted by Carsten S  on  Tue Jul 29, 2008  at  08:17 AM
Thanks, Carsten. So some of the details in the Danish article are slightly different than the English versions. It was a fistula, not a mole. The electric knife was a coagulation knife. And he was lying on some kind of surgical diaper.

It all sounds plausible to me.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Jul 29, 2008  at  08:34 AM
I search everything for such things almost every day, and have never ever hurt about that story nor Kjellerup.
And i live in Denmark!
Posted by Emma  on  Tue Oct 21, 2008  at  10:14 AM
Well I can tell you, that the story is true.
I had an operation by the doctor on april 14th 2011 and today I asked him, and he confirmed the incident. By the way his name isn
Posted by Eva  on  Tue Apr 26, 2011  at  05:37 AM
I am FROM Denmark, and in Denmark we do not sue hospitals. We've got what we call in danish "patientklagen
Posted by Patrick  on  Thu Jul 14, 2011  at  05:29 PM
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