Tuesday, 21. April 2015
31. 07. 14. - 16:00
A Chinese man blew up a hospital ward and killed himself after he tried to sneak a cigarette while undergoing treatment in a high-pressure hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
The expensive therapy involves the patient being placed in a sealed chamber in which the pressure is increased and the atmosphere inside is saturated with an oxygen rich mixture. Although 100 percent oxygen mixtures are not in themselves flammable, it is believed the man's cigarette may have set fire to the bed linen, which quickly turned to an inferno when it reacted with the oxygen rich atmosphere inside the small chamber.
When 65-year-old Liu Hung was put inside the chamber to get treatment to help a head wound heal more quickly, he apparently saw the opportunity once the doors was closed to grab a quick cigarette break, presumably thinking that nobody would be looking.
However the cigarette caused the subsequent explosion that destroyed the expensive piece of equipment, and killed the pensioner in the fireball.
Health and safety experts together with firemen who investigated the explosion that destroyed the treatment room containing the chamber said the man's body had been completely charred by the fireball. And they confirmed that they had found a melted lighter which they believed caused the explosion at the Nanxiong People’s Hospital in Nanxiong city in south-eastern China’s Guangdong province.
The man's son who had been visiting his father has demanded to know how the hospital could have failed to take away the man's lighter and said: "My father’s whole body was scorched, he looked just like a roasted pig. It was the worst thing I have ever seen and was absolutely unbearable."
Treatment in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is believed to help the healing of wounds by helping the red blood cells to carry more oxygen which speeds up the healing process.
Hospital spokesman Yong Wan said: "Mr Liu had already undergone one treatment which had worked well. We assume he had probably decided that during the second treatment he would try to sneak a cigarette where he couldn't be seen, as smoking in the hospital was not allowed."
Despite the fact that the cigarette destroyed an expensive piece of equipment the hospital has admitted responsibility in not warning its patient that smoking or taking a lighter into the device could be dangerous.
They have offered the family compensation, but the family at the moment are demanding more, and negotiations are continuing.
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