Respiratory Solutions: Reduce liability, rest easy

Q. Why should I make firebreaks standard in my patient oxygen setup?
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Friday, May 31, 2019

A. Firebreaks are incredibly important and inexpensive devices that can save patients’ lives and reduce injuries.

Crucial component

Household fire is an important concern for home oxygen patients. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of fires, but they can also be started by candles, gas stoves or other sources of ignition. The firebreak is a thermal fuse that stops the flow of oxygen during therapy, in the event that the downstream tubing is accidentally ignited. They are fitted to the patient's oxygen delivery tube and in the tubing close to the oxygen source, activating when they come in contact with fire.

DMEs that are aware of the importance of firebreaks not only contribute to patient security—they also rest easier knowing their liability is reduced.

Firebreaks are cost effective and are now bidirectional—which makes them easier to install. And with a lifespan up to four years, DMEs do not have to replace them nearly as often as a standard oxygen connector.

Research Backed

Firebreaks are currently required in all European countries.

In 2018, BPR Medical, which manufactures Firesafe, conducted a study that revealed there are nearly 20 times more home oxygen fire fatalities in the US compared with England, where they are mandatory. The study also revealed that there are ten times more fatalities in Japan, where regulations have not yet been implemented.

“Adopting best practice around home oxygen fire safety, including fitting thermal fuses in all home oxygen patient installations, can have a dramatic impact on safety”, says Richard Radford, BPR’s managing director. “It has the potential to prevent hundreds of needless deaths and thousands of injuries from home oxygen fires every year.”

In the U.S., the Veteran’s Health Administration requires that thermal fuses be fitted for all of its home oxygen clients. Visit www.firebreaks.info/unitedstates for more information about firebreaks and the Patient Safety Alert issued by the VA.

Mike Chorney is national sales manager at Sunset Healthcare Solutions. Reach him at sales@sunsethcs.com.