Elderly woman dies after lighting up a cigarette while using an oxygen mask

The Northern Echo: An oxygen mask similar to the one used by 77-year-old Margaret Woodward An oxygen mask similar to the one used by 77-year-old Margaret Woodward

A PENSIONER died after her face was engulfed in flames - because she insisted on smoking while wearing an oxygen mask, an inquest heard.

Margaret Woodward, 77, suffered severe burns to her face, lips, tongue and neck after the accident at her home in Reeth, near Richmond, on November 20 last year.

The inquest at Northallerton’s Evolution Centre today heard that Mrs Woodward suffered from chronic obstructive respiratory disease and used an oxygen tank to help her breathe.

But having been a long-term smoker she had been known to continue to smoke while using the mask.

Although commonly used to treat diseases that impair the body’s ability to take up oxygen, when highly concentrated oxygen is exposed to a spark it can cause an explosion or fire.

Community warden Elizabeth Lucas said: “At around 11.10am Mrs Woodward pressed her emergency button but I couldn’t work out what she was saying, other than the word oxygen.

“I found her sat on her bed with burns to her face, lips, tongue, left shoulder and hand.

“She said it was her fault and the oxygen had caused the fire when she had been smoking.”

After being airlifted to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Mrs Woodward suffered multiple cardiac arrests due to a lack of oxygen in her blood, the inquest was told.

Sister Susan Spence, a respiratory outreach nurse, said: “I first visited Mrs Woodward in January last year and I was concerned she was continuing to smoke.

“I was told she had been found smoking while wearing the mask, so I expressed the dangers to her and told her under no circumstances should she smoke while wearing it.”

Coroner Robert Turnbull said Mrs Woodward died from respiratory tract burns.

He said: “Attempts to save Mrs Woodward were unsuccessful and she died in hospital as a consequence of burns after smoking while using oxygen. It was the result of an accident.”

Mrs Woodward, of Reeth and formerly of Gunnerside, was a dearly loved wife of the late Charles, mum of Gary and Susan, a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Comments (9)

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8:16pm Thu 17 Apr 14

theWorkerScum says...

risky business.
risky business. theWorkerScum
  • Score: 1

8:44pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Jackaranda says...

Incredible!!
Incredible!! Jackaranda
  • Score: 7

8:49pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Robert_ says...

Durr........
Durr........ Robert_
  • Score: 2

10:00pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Degora says...

Continuing to smoke despite suffering from chronic obstructive respiratory disease and smoking whilst wearing an oxygen mask, Darwin Award winner material without a doubt.
Continuing to smoke despite suffering from chronic obstructive respiratory disease and smoking whilst wearing an oxygen mask, Darwin Award winner material without a doubt. Degora
  • Score: 17

10:30pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Voice-of-reality says...

And the state was wasting money on her treatment why...? given her determination to continue to kill herself through smoking.
Time for scarce hospital rations to be used partially on the extent to which a patient will modify their behaviour.
And the state was wasting money on her treatment why...? given her determination to continue to kill herself through smoking. Time for scarce hospital rations to be used partially on the extent to which a patient will modify their behaviour. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 23

10:52pm Thu 17 Apr 14

MST1975 says...

Wow, people really are THAT dumb
Wow, people really are THAT dumb MST1975
  • Score: 14

7:21am Fri 18 Apr 14

cromwell1599 says...

MST1975 wrote:
Wow, people really are THAT dumb
Oh yes.................
..very sad that she died, but this is one of the most stupid acts that I've ever heard of, both from the point of view of having a naked light that close to concentrated oxygen and continuing to smoke while being treated for respiratory disease.
[quote][p][bold]MST1975[/bold] wrote: Wow, people really are THAT dumb[/p][/quote]Oh yes................. ..very sad that she died, but this is one of the most stupid acts that I've ever heard of, both from the point of view of having a naked light that close to concentrated oxygen and continuing to smoke while being treated for respiratory disease. cromwell1599
  • Score: 15

8:57am Fri 18 Apr 14

truggggg says...

Proof- smoking is bad for your health
Proof- smoking is bad for your health truggggg
  • Score: 9

4:29pm Sun 20 Apr 14

jps101 says...

It seems to me that this poor woman needed psychiatric help, not just medical help.
After it was obvious she couldn't be trusted to use the oxygen tank safely un-supervised it shouldn't have been left with her, by herself.
It seems to me that this poor woman needed psychiatric help, not just medical help. After it was obvious she couldn't be trusted to use the oxygen tank safely un-supervised it shouldn't have been left with her, by herself. jps101
  • Score: 0

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