Local News

Fatal Durham Hospital fire ruled accidental

Posted November 8, 2012

— A fatal fire that erupted during a defibrillation procedure at Durham Regional Hospital earlier this week was an accident, investigators said Thursday.

Durham Fire Department investigators said they are still working to determine the source of ignition in the blaze that broke out shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday in a room on the sixth floor. One patient died and three employees suffered smoke inhalation.

Preliminary findings indicate a spark happened during an attempt to revive the patient, who was critically ill. The identity of the person has not been released, and hospital officials said the timing and cause of death will be determined by the state medical examiner.

The sixth floor houses Select Specialty Hospital, a separate facility that specializes in long-term acute care. The fire was initially reported to 911 as an explosion, and callers described a chaotic, smoke-filled scene.

Investigators have said the sprinkler system functioned properly and hospital employees responded appropriately to the incident.

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  • NCHighlander Nov 9, 8:11 a.m.

    "I take exception to headlines that fire killed the patient or that it was a fatal fire. If the staff were performing a defibrillation (versus a cardio version) then the patient by definition was already vital signs absent. This death is more aptly termed a failed resuscitation interrupted by a fire. jackcdneh1017"

    I am sure your insightful analysis will greatly comfort the patent's friends and family. piene2

    Actually piene2 the comment is very important. The family that your talking about will obviously sue the hospital and the actual cause of death will be key in that suit. Perhaps that is as big of a story as the original. Care to make an anti gun comment on this story?

  • SmokeWagon Nov 8, 5:07 p.m.

    The word "accident" implies no willful intent....however EVERY "accident" is caused...yes, every single one...an "accident" does NOT mean there was NO negligence....!!!!

  • ladyblue Nov 8, 4:08 p.m.

    the MythBusters TV show on DSC tested the 'fire' possibility. it *is* possible, but only if every-single-thing goes wrong.

    LOL--as well as the mythbusters try to copy every action--there is always a envirornmental difference...and anything is possible at any given time....

  • Bronco Nov 8, 4:07 p.m.

    An accident does not rule out negligence

  • turkeydance Nov 8, 3:38 p.m.

    the MythBusters TV show on DSC tested the 'fire' possibility.
    it *is* possible, but only if every-single-thing goes wrong.

  • jackcdneh1017 Nov 8, 3:20 p.m.

    I take exception to headlines that fire killed the patient or that it was a fatal fire. If the staff were performing a defibrillation (versus a cardio version) then the patient by definition was already vital signs absent. This death is more aptly termed a failed resuscitation interrupted by a fire.