legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Smoking Injury Lawyers
Smoking inside a nursing facility or on the grounds is a hot topic that has influenced changes in state laws and filing lawsuits. While smoking patients for their rights to continue smoking, others are fighting to have smoking banned altogether in some.
Whatever side you land on, everyone should agree that patients need to be protected from smoking accidents and injuries while under the care of a skilled nursing facility.
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC are committed to protecting the legal rights of elderly patients who have been injured or killed in smoking incidents. Contact us today for a free review of your legal options for a nursing home injury or wrongful death claim against a negligent facility.
Nursing Home Smoking Accident Injuries FAQs
Depending on local fire hazards and state regulations, some nursing facilities, assisted-living homes, and rehab centers allow the residents to smoke cigarettes and tobacco products in designated areas indoors. Nearly all facilities have a designated safe smoking area outdoors.
The nursing staff must follow specific guidelines dictating how the smoking areas are set up and maintained. The area should contain non-combustible ashtrays.
Mobility-challenged, elderly residents must also smoke outdoors, which can present problems during inclement weather. A few nursing facilities will allow e-cigarette smokeless alternatives for residents wanting to smoke indoors.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides smoking safety guidelines for residents in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, rehab centers, and ALFs (assisted-living facilities). Typically, smoking is allowed only outdoors and under supervision, where residents must wear a smoking apron in areas equipped with fire extinguishers.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not allow smoking in designated areas without ongoing supervision, where the nursing staff takes reasonable precautions to guarantee resident safety.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoking tobacco products is considered a banned activity inside most long-term care facilities due to significant risk factors and fire dangers. Statistics show that older men and women are more than twice as likely to die in an indoor fire than younger adults.
Many nursing facilities allow smoking outdoors but ban the activity indoors to maximize everyone's health, especially those with underlying problems, including heart disease, circulatory system diseases, cancer, poisoning, and other injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the nursing staff and employees must take specific steps to minimize the facility's potential fire risk. Preventing an indoor fire requires adequate planning involving written fire procedures easily understood and practiced by all staff members.
The staff should follow quick response protocols that include:
- Call out loudly to alert staff using a pre-determined code
- Activate the building's fire alarm
- Evacuate all residents, including those with mobility challenges, from immediate danger
- Close fire doors to contain the area filled with fire or smoke
- Leave all closed doors unopened until firefighters arrive
- Close every patient room door
- Make sure all residents leave the premises and no one is left behind
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, many fires are started indoors by smokers not following proper safety guidelines. Nearly a thousand individuals (both smokers and non-smokers) lose their lives each year in home fires caused by cigarette smoking in the United States.
Smoking fires are the leading cause of home fire deaths in America. Many horrific fires are started by lit cigarettes and smoking materials that ignite trash, furniture, or bedding/drapes.
The National Fire Protection Agency revealed that smoking materials, including tobacco products, caused an estimated ninety thousand fires in the United States in 2018. That year, nearly 1700 individuals were injured, and over five hundred people died in smoking-related accidents.
Many of these fires started when the smoker dozed off while their lit cigarette continued to burn for up to twenty minutes. Careless smoking practices inside the home could ignite bedding material, drapes, clothing, or carpeting.
Smoking Dangers Posed to Patients & Others in the Nursing Facility
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many unique dangers exist for smoking in or around nursing facilities. While smoking has its health risks, the dangers of fires and burns are risks to the smoker and other nursing home patients who live in these healthcare facilities.
Home staff members and the administration are responsible for ensuring that allowing smoking on the premises does not cause harm or injury to the patients in their care. Common smoking dangers that can result in severe burns to residents include:
- Oxygen tanks. Many residents an oxygen tank, creating a high risk for a nursing home fire or explosion if exposed to a flame or burning cigarette.
- Second-hand smoke. Illinois nursing homes and assisted living facilities must protect their patients from second-hand smoke by creating smoke-free areas and providing proper ventilation when smoking is allowed indoors.
- Physical and mental limitations. Nursing home staff need to monitor smoking and fire use, especially with mental and physical limitations. Some might not be able to extinguish their cigarettes to prevent fires or burns, while others might have disabilities such as dementia that might put themselves and others in danger when allowed access to lighters and matches.
Many fire injuries involving older adults result from the Chicago nursing home's failure to maintain adequate sprinklers and other equipment to douse fires immediately.
Smoking Injuries in Elderly Residents
Although every state and nursing facility could have different policies regarding smoking, there is no federal regulation that prohibits smoking in these facilities. When the nursing facility property allows smoking, the company and administration are responsible for preventing patients, employees, and nursing staff from fires and smoke.
The staff must first protect the smoker by maintaining an effective Care Plan on how, where, and when the patient can smoke.
Just like any activity in a long-term care facility, the nursing staff must develop precautions that prevent accidents and injuries that often require constant supervision and monitoring of lighting devices and ashtrays in the smoking area. Any failure to monitor and supervise the smoker could result in nursing home negligence.
Resident death by smoke inhalation and burns continues to be a significant concern in nursing facilities. The U.S. Fire Administration identified smoking as the leading cause of fire-related deaths involving the elderly.
If a patient accidentally starts a fire due to not being carefully monitored by the nursing home staff, it can put all the patients in that home at risk of severe burn injuries and even death.
Due to patients' limited mobility, the close quarters, and the number of flammable materials within a nursing home, once a fire is started, it can put everyone in the facility in mortal danger.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Helping Patients Injured in Smoking Accidents
Nursing homes must establish and enforce stringent rules and regulations regarding a smoking policy to protect all patients from injury and death. The facility must also correctly maintain all smoke detectors and fire extinguishers to ensure that they are regularly tested.
Nursing home staff and management need to do everything in their power to protect those in their care from becoming victims of a smoking accident.
If your family member suffered severe burn injuries or death in a smoking incident at a nursing home, our nursing home attorneys are interested in discussing the situation with you. Our team has prosecuted smoking accidents in skilled nursing facilities and remains committed to securing the best possible outcome for you.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Please do not send sensitive information to our law office through voicemail, email, or text message. Our attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).