updated 11/24/2004 4:24:47 PM ET 2004-11-24T21:24:47

A woman who underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm died after she was mistakenly injected with an antiseptic solution instead of a harmless X-ray marker dye, hospital officials say.

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Mary McClinton, 69, of Everett, had the operation Nov. 4 at Virginia Mason Medical Center and died Tuesday.

At the end of McClinton’s operation, a technician was supposed to inject the dye into a leg artery. Instead, the syringe was filled with chlorhexidine, a highly toxic solution used to clean the skin, hospital quality chief Dr. Robert Caplan said.

The solution “caused widespread damage to the organs of her body,” Caplan said.

The hospital had recently switched from a brown iodine antiseptic to a colorless version. The marker dye also is clear, and the syringe was filled from an unlabeled cup containing the antiseptic.

Caplan said the cup of antiseptic has since been replaced with a swab on a stick.

Everyone involved in the mistake was removed from duty and retrained, along with the entire medical staff, officials said. The names of the technician and others involved were not released.

“We have offered our heartfelt apologies to the family of the patient and are doing everything we can to help them in this time of grief, but perhaps the only way we can make our apology real is to do everything we can to prevent medical errors in our system,” Caplan said.

Family members have given no indication of whether they plan to sue.

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