Flash Burns While on Home Oxygen Therapy: Tracking Trends and Identifying Areas for Improvement

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The objective was to analyze reported flash burns experienced by patients on home oxygen therapy (HOT) in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) using a qualitative, retrospective review of VHA root cause analysis reports between January 2009 and November 2015. Of 123 cases of reported adverse events related to flash burns, 100 cases (81%) resulted in injury, and 23 (19%) resulted in death. Although 89% of veterans claimed to have quit smoking (n = 109), 92% (n = 113) of burns occurred as a result of smoking. The most common root cause was risk identification issues. Recommended actions were standardized risk assessment policies, patient education, and the adoption of fire stop valves. Patients with a history of smoking who are on HOT should be considered for fire stop valves and offered consistent counseling and follow-up using a combination of harm reduction and shared decision-making techniques. Standardization of risk identification and documentation is recommended.

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