From: John Gonzo

To: Multiple members of list ROF-L

Subject: Human Hindenburg

 

Last weekend a 14 year-old boy was admitted to the hospital in status asthmaticus. Because of problems moving air and his agitation from hypoxemia, we started him on heliox with temporary improvement. Since hydrogen has even a lower molecular weight than helium, a physician suggested using a mixture of hydrogen/oxygen. We acquired (in the middle of the night after multiple phone calls) a tank of hydrogen gas from a supply house and mixed it with oxygen to produce an FIO2 of .30.

 

Things went well for about two minutes when, to everyone's surprise, the patient starting floating above the bed.He began clawing at anything he could grab to keep from floating away and ripped open some stitches from a radial artery cutdown. With two of us holding him down, I grabbed the cautery to control the bleeding. As soon as I hit the cautery button there was a spark and....the patient exploded.

 

I know Bob Baskin has had similar problems when caring for patients, but has anyone seen anything like this before? Do you think it is a common problem we just haven't been recognizing?