Oxygen and candles after death=Safety hazard!! what do you do?

  1. so at work today we had a jewish patient who passed away. the family lit candles and put it around the patient but it is a hospital environment aka O2 Everywhere!!!!! So there was a problem cause the family insisted to have it lit but its a safety hazard. the fam was very persistent and in distress. This problem even went up to management

    If you were caring for this patient what would you do? bluntly blow it out? leave it on and call management? something else?

    have you had similar situations?
    •  
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   llg
    I would probably blow it out -- simultaneously explaining in very polite terms (not bluntly) that open flames are not allowed anywhere in the hospital because the enriched oxygen atmosphere + flame + dangerous explosions. If they did not accept that, I would politely help them arrange a meeting with the proper administrator or patient advocate. If necessary, I would call Security.

    And I would have turned off the oxygen as soon as the patient died -- to minimize the risk.
  4. by   RNNPICU
    Why not suggest flame-less candles, the battery operated kind. The family can"light the candle by turning the candle on and no need to worry about oxygen and fire.
    Tell the family that use of candles that require fire to light them is prohibited, but using candles that are battery powered are okay. They could have 20-30+ candles or as many as they want and it would not pose a risk to all the other patients in the hospital.
  5. by   Here.I.Stand
    Yeah...cultural/spiritual practices are subordinate to my desire to stay out of fireballs. They can "insist" as much as they like, but flames will NOT be lit. Thankfully, I have never had a family become dangerous over any kind of rite.

    That said, practices are important to people, and I will help think of a way. I like RNNPICU's idea of battery operated candles. We have a staff of excellent chaplains too, with one on call 24/7/365. I would give him/her a call to come and support the family, but also for their expertise in this area. They may have workarounds that I never would have thought of.
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from RNNPICU
    Why not suggest flame-less candles, the battery operated kind. The family can"light the candle by turning the candle on and no need to worry about oxygen and fire.
    This was my first thought, as well.
  7. by   MunoRN
    I would avoid the oxygen argument since it's not particularly accurate; oxygen is not actually flammable, and the amount of oxygen in the air in a hospital is not really any different than it is anywhere else. I would point out that hospitals contain a large amount of flammable substances, and that it's occupants can't readily escape, even those that can be dragged to safety will likely die in the process.

    It is important in jewish cultures to light a candle upon the death of a family member, I've worked where there was a large jewish community, and the solution was that the family's rabbi would light the traditional candle that signified the patient elsewhere, which apparently counts the same as one lit in the hospital.
  8. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from llg
    I would probably blow it out -- simultaneously explaining in very polite terms (not bluntly) that open flames are not allowed anywhere in the hospital because the enriched oxygen atmosphere + flame + dangerous explosions.
    Point of clarification. Oxygen does not explode...ever. Otherwise our atmosphere would be exploding all the time. Nor does the room where oxygen is being used have a higher concentration of oxygen than one that doesn't. Oxygen DOES make flammable (actually the correct term is inflammable) things burn hotter and faster. So if a patient with a nasal cannula on puts his blanket over his head to sneak a smoke and the blanket catches fire the result would be much worse than a patient without oxygen. In addition O2 tanks don't explode in the sense of a bomb but rather like a jet engine because of their high internal pressure. Of course all of this is academic but the idea of open flames in the presence of other flammable materials and vulnerable patients (as Muno pointed out) is just a bad idea all around.
  9. by   brownbook
    I would have let them have their lit candles. I would have said an adult has to physically hold the candle, if it set down it must be blown out. I would have put a time limit on how long it could be allowed.

    A little before my time but staff and patients used to smoke in hospitals.
  10. by   canoehead
    I would blame the Fire Marshall, educate them, then give them privacy, asking how long they would like to be left alone.
  11. by   KRVRN
    If the flow meters are off and there's not ventilators, etc drawing O2, the hospital environment isn't any higher in O2 than anywhere else.

    Which isn't really the point... Open flames are not allowed regardless of O2 or not. I would not blow out a candle on the off chance doing so would have a negative symbolic meaning ("Grandma's not going to Heaven because the candle was blown out by a stranger"---or something). I would inform the family it's not allowed and to please put it out. If that was a problem, I would refer to management.

close