COPD patients with newer home oxygen prescriptions (within the previous 90 days) are more likely to sustain burn injuries, according to research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) noted that, barring smoking cessation, no other COPD intervention is more helpful for patients than continuous oxygen therapy. However, they continued, oxygen therapy is dangerous for patients who still smoke due to risk of fire hazard.

The authors wrote that the number of active smokers who are prescribed oxygen is estimated to be at 15 to 25%, and that a heat source or an open flame near the oxygen gas tank may ignite a fire.

Patients with a burn injury were twice as likely to have been prescribed oxygen in the previous 90 days, compared to those without a burn injury. The burns were likely to have occurred on the face, neck, or hands.

During a 22 month period, the absolute risk of burn injury in patients prescribed oxygen therapy was 2.98 per 1000 patients compared to 1.69 per 1000 patients not prescribed oxygen, the researchers said.