NEWPORT BEACH : Hoag Hospital May Ban Patient Smoking

Hoag Hospital officials said Tuesday that they are reconsidering their smoking policy after a patient who was smoking in bed caused a fire and was seriously burned.

Larry Ainsworth, vice president of Hoag, said administrators and doctors have begun discussing whether the hospital should become smoke-free. The current policy does not allow staff or visitors to smoke. Only patients who have permission from their physicians are allowed to do so in their rooms.

An unidentified patient was found shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday with flames engulfing his upper body, Ainsworth said. He would not release the patient's name. However, he said the patient was transferred to a burn center in serious condition with burns over about 30% of his body.

Ainsworth said a nurse discovered the fire and threw a blanket over the patient's body, rolling him on the floor until the flames were extinguished.

Cigarette sparks apparently ignited the patient's bedclothes, and flames quickly spread, officials said. The fire caused smoke to billow in the main reception area, but the smoke was quickly cleared. No damage was reported.

"Policy was followed, but (smoking in bed) presents the constant safety concern," Ainsworth said. "A lot of hospitals have no-smoking policies. An (all-out) ban here is an option we will be considering."

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