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Publication Type: Patient Safety Alert
Single or Multiple Incident: Multiple
Date: 3/22/2018 12:00:00 AM

This alert discusses the patient safety incidents of fire in clients using home oxygen delivery systems. Home oxygen delivery systems consist of an oxygen source connected to a length of plastic tubing ending in a nasal cannula or mask (that is worn by the patient). Oxygen acts as an accelerant, which causes nearby material to ignite more easily and burn more intensely. This alert discusses the use of thermal fuses to reduce the severity of fires and the damage they may cause. Thermal fuses can be inserted in line with a patient’s home oxygen tubing. A thermal fuse melts when heated and blocks the flow of oxygen in the delivery system tubing in the event of a fire. Stopping the flow of oxygen removes a major source of fire acceleration, potentially preventing ignition of the oxygen source or nearby materials. The top five sources of fires in these situations are smoking, open flames (e.g. candles, gas stoves, incense), power tools, power strips and static electricity. The alert stresses the need to be clear on the limitations of thermal fuses to prevent a false sense of security. A thermal fuse will not prevent all burns to the patient’s face, neck, or internal airways, especially those burns that occur at the onset of a fire and before activation of the thermal fuse. As well, a thermal fuse does not make it safe to smoke while using oxygen. The alert provides a number of resources which include guidance on smoking cessation programs, patient and caregiver education, home oxygen risk assessment, environmental assessment, oxygen safety agreements, and ethical considerations. Actions to reduce the likelihood of fires in clients on home oxygen are provided. Attachments referenced in the actions are available in the alert and are: - Mandatory requirements for use of thermal fuses; and - Mandatory requirements for reporting fires involving home oxygen delivery systems

Additional Details

oxygen concentrator, gas cylinder, liquid reservoir, portable electronic devices, grills/barbecues, electric heaters, CPAP devices, firearms, fire-safe valves, oxy-safe valves, fire-break valves, bayonets, portable pulse dose/intermiitent oxygen therapy equipment

Use of thermal fuses may reduce the severity of fires involving home oxygen delivery systems