Resident Receives Extreme Burns After Oxygen Catches Fire From Smoking

Quitting smoking is difficult, even for those who are suffering from lung disease and require oxygen. It goes without saying that oxygen and an open flame don’t mix and combining the two can lead to explosions and burn injuries. Still, some nursing homes allow patients to continue to smoke with supervision and in approved areas. However, allowing residents to smoke unsupervised can lead to tragedy as one Helena nursing home has discovered. The Independent Record reports on the state finding that a nursing home neglected the unsupervised resident who caught fire.

In May, a resident at Big Sky Healthcare Community received third-degree burns to her face and hands after her supplemental oxygen ignited while the resident was left unsupervised outside. A witness said that it took the staff 10 minutes to reach her and to contact emergency services. That witness also detailed that residents were frequently left unsupervised to smoke.

The resident, who was not named in the report, was admitted to the facility in December of 2017 with a lung disease that required supplemental oxygen. On May 1st, the patient was taken outside by a therapist. There, another resident was smoking. The resident reportedly told the emergency room physician that she had taken a drag off of another resident’s cigarette and her oxygen ignited.

The resident was admitted to hospice on May 8th and died on May 24th. The cause of death was not listed in the report.

The ensuing investigation noted that the incident constituted potential “immediate jeopardy” to residents and required the facility to come up with a corrective plan of action.