NHS Trust Admits Facial Burn Which Left Former Model With Permanent Scar Could Have Been Prevented

Expert Medical Lawyers Working To Secure Settlement For Ongoing Treatment


A former child model who suffered a severe burn from an unmaintained dental drill that overheated when she was having wisdom teeth removed has spoken of her ‘horrific’ ordeal for the first time after an NHS Trust admitted her injury could have been prevented.

Jade Blinco says her dreams of pursuing an adult modelling career have been ruined and she has also had to give up her job as a nursery worker as she worried that the painful injury across her top lip scared the children, following the incident at Birmingham City Hospital in September 2011.

The 23-year-old instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to prevent the burn that has left her with a large red area of scarring on her top lip which is sensitive to touch and leaves her unable to eat or drink anything very hot or cold. 

Jade, from Bilston near Wolverhampton, has been recommended treatment from a plastic surgeon and ongoing psychological therapy, but has been told the burn is likely to have permanently changed the shape of her lip.

She is speaking out for the first time after Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust admitted full liability for the drill overheating and causing her injury but says she remains disappointed that the Trust has still not offered her an official apology. The admission paves the way for her expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to secure a settlement to help with her on-going treatment.

An internal investigation by the Trust found the ‘Root cause was noted as a failure of the Trust's processes in regards to the management and maintenance of hand pieces used for Oral Surgical Procedures." The report also refers to a previous incident of burns from the same hand pieces within the Trust.

Following the incident, the Trust changed the brand of the tool used to one that now has an automatic cooling system to prevent anyone else being burnt. But Jade’s medical team at Irwin Mitchell say this was too little too late for her and action should have been taken following the first instance of a burn occurring.

Charlotte Cook, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “Jade suffered a serious injury that has left her permanently scarred and has had a huge impact on her life and future.

“One of the most concerning elements of what happened is that the Trust’s investigation highlighted that it was aware the drill tool was prone to overheating after a previous instance of a patient suffering a lip burn. Jade’s injuries were totally unnecessary and could easily have been prevented.

“Action should have been taken at the first instance to protect patient safety, by considering whether it was the best tool for the job or providing updated guidelines to staff on how to prevent a burn from occurring should the equipment overheat – a simple guard under Jade’s lip would have prevented the external skin contact.

“We are pleased the Trust no longer uses this tool, however this is of little consolation to Jade, who has a permanent reminder of the Trust’s negligence when she looks in the mirror. The least she deserves is a full apology.

“The admission of liability from the Trust means we can now work to secure Jade a settlement that will fund her ongoing treatment to try and reduce her scarring, as well as cover her loss of earnings, as the psychological impact of what happened has left her without confidence to pursue her career.”

Jade attended the oral and maxillofacial department at Birmingham City Hospital on 1 September 2011 for day surgery under general anaesthetic for the removal of two of her lower wisdom teeth and an upper tooth.

But when she came around from the anaesthetic she was shocked to be told that there was a significant burn across the top of her lip caused by the drill.

Jade said: “The last three years have been horrendous as I have tried to come to terms with living with the horrific injury and scar I have been left with.

“I never imagined for one minute that I would wake from surgery to be told I had a serious painful burn that has scarred me for life.

“I had been a child model and hoped to pursue a career in the industry as an adult but the scar means modelling agencies won’t even consider me and I have no confidence now.

“I’ve given up my job as a nursery nurse as I felt so self-conscious and worried that I scared the children because my lip looked so awful. I’ve been told I may need plastic surgery to try and improve the appearance of my lip but it’s likely I will never look the same as before.

“I am pleased the Trust no longer uses the same drill tool but I am still angry that it was known that the drill could overheat and cause injury before I suffered the burn, so something could have easily been done to prevent it from happening.

“I am also disappointed that the Trust has not offered me an official apology, despite admitting liability. It would at least show some compassion for what I have been through.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims