A 69-year-old woman hospitalized at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood was killed in her hospital bed when a defibrillator being used on her caught fire and then exploded. The niece of the woman killed in the Houston hospital bedside explosion and fire described her aunt’s fatal injuries as included the patient’s entire upper torso being burned beyond recognition. The niece went on to add that “who would ever expect your relative to be burnt to a crisp in a hospital.”
The patient was hospitalized as the result of a COVID-19 infection. A defibrillator was being used to resuscitate the woman whose condition had deteriorated. While in use, the equipment some how ignited, the flames then causing a small explosion.
An autopsy is to be performed to confirm precisely what was the cause of the patient’s death. As noted, she was hospitalized for a severe COVID infection before the fire. A question needed to be answered via the autopsy is whether or not the patient would have died when she did if the defibrillator had not ignited, had the flames not immediately engulfed her while she was in a hospital bed.
The patient killed in the Houston hospital fire is identified as Denise Asaro. The Asaro has been beset by tragedy during the past month, even beyond the horrific death Mrs. Asaro endured while hospitalized as the result of a coronavirus infection. On June 2, Mrs. Asaro’s youngest son died as the result of complications from COVID-19. On Father’s Day, her husband died from a coronavirus infection.
Cause of Houston Hospital Fire and Explosion
The police and others have been called in to investigate the cause of the defibrillator fire and associated explosion. As of this time, no official statement has been forthcoming form investigators as to how the defibrillator ignited and exploded.
With that said, there is authoritative speculation as to what occurred at the Houston hospital. There is a likelihood that a functioning medical oxygen tank was present in the patient’s room at the time the defibrillator was put into use. The presence of an open or operating medical oxygen tank or unit can cause a fire and even raise the prospect of an explosion when a defibrillator is engaged to treat a patient. In simple terms, defibrillator fires have occurred in this type of environment at medical centers.
The likelihood that an open or operating medical oxygen tank or unit was in place in the patient’s room at the time resuscitation efforts using a defibrillator is strong given why the Mrs. Asaro was in the hospital. As part of being treated for a sever COVID-19 infection, the woman almost certainly was on oxygen at the time she needed emergency resuscitation using a defibrillator.
Statement from Medical Center Following Houston Hospital Explosion
HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood has cited patient confidentiality and has released little information to the public or media about the Houston hospital fire and patient’s death. The medical center did release a statement, which reads:
A tragic incident occurred at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood on Saturday, June 26. Because we are obligated to protect patient confidentiality, the hospital is not at liberty to discuss any specific details about the incident or the patient involved.
The hospital and its medical staff take this matter very seriously. We have begun an internal investigation and are working with local authorities to assist with their investigation. Our current focus is on supporting the family.
We remain committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all of our patients, visitors, and colleagues.
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