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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oxygen and fire do not bode well together

I was just reading some of the information at regarding COPD and I came across this question: "Can I just take "hit" of oxygen when I need it?"

I don't know why but that struck me as funny. It's really not. It's also not funny when someone who wears oxygen gets too close to the fire on a gas stove and their overflowing beard starts on fire. I've had more than one patients try this.

I've also had a COPD patient once light up a cigarette in his hospital bed. I was sitting at the nurses station at the time and heard a loud Crack! Click!Thud!

My mind's eye immediately recognized the thud, but the wheels were spinning in an attempt to identify the source of that unfamiliar crack.

Upon entering the room the patient was sitting on the floor with a disorganized look upon his singed face, an unlit cigarette dangling from his face. Next to him the oxygen tubing was doing a circular dance atop the tile floor and then it stood still.

At my foot was a cigarette lighter. I surmised the following sequence of events: He flicked the lighter which caused the crack as the oxygen was exposed to the flame, the lighter was dropped and clicked on the ground, the patient stripped the nasal cannula from his face, put out the fire on himself, and thudded to the ground in the process.

When you work in a hospital you see it all

So, we'll make this RT Cave Rule #39:

RT Cave Rule #39: Make sure your patients on oxygen do not get close to a flame, and that includes gas stoves with the burners on and cigarette lighters.

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