Man died in care home from fire ignited by cigarette


A NURSING home has changed its practices on allowing residents to smoke, following the death of a 69-year-old blind man who suffered severe burns to 30 per cent of his body when a cigarette fell and ignited his clothes in a smoking room.

Seán Collins, owner of Fairfield Nursing Home in Drimoleague, Co Cork, told an inquest at Cork City Coroner’s Court yesterday into the death of Seán Twomey that the home had carried out a review of its smoking policy for residents.

Mr Collins said the nursing home had considered banning smoking completely but decided against that as it would be an infringement of residents’ rights. The home had constructed a special smoking shelter outside and smoking was now supervised.

The inquest heard Mr Twomey, who was paralysed down his left side following a stroke, was in the nursing home’s smoking room on December 7th, 2010, with two other wheelchair-using residents when it appeared a cigarette fell on to his clothing.

Mr Twomey suffered full-thickness burns around his left hip. Assistant State pathologist Margaret Bolster suggested the fact he had suffered a stroke meant he was not as sensitive there as a healthy person would be.

Mr Twomey was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, where he died on December 25th, 2010.

Dr Bolster told the inquest that Mr Twomey, from Prospect Lawn in Dunmanway, had suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body area and while 30 per cent body burns were not necessarily life-threatening, his death from bronchial pneumonia occurred because of the fire.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.