THURSDAY, April 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Use of home oxygen puts patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at risk for burns, a new study indicates.
Oxygen therapy is a common treatment for people with the lung disease. But there is a burn risk for patients who smoke, because having a heat or flame source near oxygen gas can trigger a fire.
Researchers looked at 685 Medicare patients with COPD who suffered burns between 2001 and 2010 and 2,055 who did not. Those who suffered burns were more likely to have been prescribed home oxygen therapy within 90 days prior to their burns.
"The benefits of oxygen in COPD patients outweigh the modest risks of burn injury," said senior study author Dr. Alexander Duarte, a professor in the division of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"However, health care professionals should educate and counsel patients and their families on the potential risk of burn injury and attempt to decrease this risk before prescribing home oxygen therapy," he added in a university news release.
Many of the burns occurred on the face, neck or hands. The death rate among patients who suffered burns was 10 times higher than among those with no burn injuries, the researchers found.
Overall, one out of 1,421 COPD patients who were prescribed oxygen therapy suffered a burn each year, according to the study published March 30 in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Those most likely to suffer burns were men, poorer patients and those with three or more other medical conditions.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about COPD.