Media analysis undertaken by BPR Medical suggests serious home oxygen fire incidents are not being identified by the EU Medical Device Vigilance System, with inconsistent reporting processes putting patients at risk across the continent.
Available statistics from the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) suggest home oxygen fires caused 15 fatalities between 2013 and 2017 across 16 countries in the EU. Yet our media analysis in another five year period revealed 23 deaths in France and Italy alone.
Home oxygen therapy is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands across the continent, but it can also be a serious hazard when brought into contact with an ignition source – usually a lit cigarette. The fire can spread through the patient’s tubing to the source of the oxygen – leading to deadly flash fires and even explosions.
Our media analysis between 2017-2021 revealed that there were 42 instances of death and serious injury in France and Italy caused by such fires. This included serious injury to fire personnel and nearby residents.
Based on the available EIGA figures, deaths from home oxygen users are 0.75 per 100,000 across the EU. However, our report suggests this is more likely to be between the 3.3 deaths per 100,000 patients found in Japan and the 6.6 deaths per 100,000 seen in the US.
The reporting of serious incidents involving home oxygen devices is already required under the Medical Device Vigilance System in the European Union. However, these figures suggest there is a problem with how this system is working.
Speaking on the report, our Managing Director Richard Radford said, “These findings are hugely concerning given the half a million home oxygen therapy users there are across Europe. Important decisions about fire safety and home oxygen use are being based on incomplete data. We’re now calling on the home oxygen sector in France, Italy and other European countries to take urgent action to recognise, report and reduce the problem of home oxygen-related fires resulting in death and serious injury.“
The full report and other resources can be found here: Europe Firebreaks