This case involves a woman who required leg amputation after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. The woman was renting a house with a poor heating system and no fireplace. In early March, the woman’s heating system stopped working entirely. Her landlord gave her a propane space heater to warm up the house. One evening, the woman left the space heater on for many hours and lost consciousness. She was taken to the hospital the next day and discovered to have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. She was discharged after 2 days. The woman was readmitted to the hospital a week later with severe foot and leg pain and circulatory disturbance. Over the course of the next few days, the woman developed rapidly progressive gangrene and high fever. The woman required a below the knee amputation.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. How often do you treat carbon monoxide poisoning?
- 2. How does carbon monoxide poisoning occur from a brazier?
- 3. What are the long-term implications of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Expert Witness Response E-124114
I am double board-certified in medical toxicology and emergency medicine. I actively treat patients with carbon monoxide poisoning as part of my clinical practice. In addition, I have performed research on carbon monoxide poisoning and recently published a peer-reviewed study on the subject. I treat carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning several times per year. CO poisoning can occur from a brazier or any other combustion source, particularly if it is being used in an enclosed space. Incomplete combustion of wood and coal, among others, result in the formation of CO. The CO can then result in a headache, dizziness, vomiting, coma, or death. Long-term effects of patients who survive CO poisoning can include neurologic deficits. I was involved in a similar case involving CO poisoning last year. It involved a plaintiff who suffered CO poisoning from a car that had been left running in a garage.