Last word on warnings?

Subject: Last word on warnings?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 09:12:55 -0400

John Garison reported a news clipping: <<"A retired reporter, who suffered
from emphysema, died after igniting an oxygen line in her home while
lighting a cigarette...">>

I've worked with cylinders of pure oxygen in labs, and the labels are
generally quite clear that you must keep the gas away from open flames; in
fact, we always had to use nitrogen-adulterated oxygen (also known as "air"
<g>) for anything that didn't require the pure gas for chemical reasons
(e.g., studies of respiration). Moreover, the lab supervisor always made it
quite clear that this was not a negotiable condition for using the oxygen,
and made it quite clear why. In the hospitals I've visited, I'm reasonably
sure I've seen even stronger warnings about the oxygen sources, and
certainly nurses are very vigilant about keeping smokers out of rooms where
oxygen is in use.

It's possible that the deceased's doctor or supplier of medical equipment
was negligent in not explaining this problem, but in my experience, it's far
more likely the smoker was solely responsible. It's not like patients are
particularly good about listening to their doctors, after all. If you think
_we_ have problems getting people to follow our instructions, just be glad
you're not a doctor. We've got it easy by comparison.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can
think."--Edwin Schlossberg, designer (1945- )

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