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In the wake of the carbon monoxide deaths at the Best Western in Boone, North Carolina, the concern should not be just for those who died, but for anyone who was in that hotel, not just on June 8, 2013, but on the day of the first two fatalities this year. See our blog of yesterday at http://carbonmonoxide-poisoning.com/blog/2013/06/branded-hotels-again-fail-to-monitor-for-carbon-monoxide-risks.html discussing the June 8, 2013 death of the two deaths on April 16, 2013, all in room 225 of the Best Western.
The owner of the hotel today put out a statement, through its attorney stating “The health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our number one priority.” See http://www.hcpress.com/news/lawyer-for-local-owner-of-best-western-in-boone-releases-statement-health-and-safety-of-guests-are-no-1-priority.html If the health of those who have stayed at the Best Western is truly the concern, then the hotel should be contacting at a minimum, every single person who has stayed in Room 225 this year, or at least certainly since April 16, 2013.
What the statement did not address is just how many times that room has been rented over the last few months, nor how it is that both the owners of the property and the Best Western chain did nothing to diagnose and fix a problem that had already killed two people.
Carboxyhemoglobin Test Should Be Given to All Recent Guests
It is clear that not only the Best Western, but health officials have lost sight of the fact that carbon monoxide is not only potentially fatal, it can cause permanent brain damage and other organ damage, to those who survive. At the press conference yesterday, the Boone health department officials noted that carbon monoxide levels were elevated in other places in the hotel. If so, then every single guest who was in an area where CO was found, should have been sent to the hospital and had his or her blood tested for CO. At a minimum a test to determine the carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. Carboxyhemoglobin is the compound that occurs in the blood when carbon monoxide (CO) takes the place of oxygen, O2 in hemoglobin, in the red blood cells.
If in fact the cause of the CO poisoning was the pool heater, then anytime that pool heater was on since at least as early as the first deaths, then carbon monoxide was undoubtedly present, at least in Room 225. But poison gases don’t come with a keycard. The CO likely went anywhere that air could flow in the hotel. While no other deaths were reported, the symptoms of CO poisoning are not always diagnosed immediately because they can be attributed to flu or other health problems. Even heart attacks can be caused by CO poisoning, especially in those with compromised health.
Delayed Problems after Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Anything that has the potential to kill through asphyxiation, has the potential to cause permanent brain damage and severe other organ damage. Those who survived may still be at risk of serious problems. What makes such concerns even more urgent with those who have been in the Boone Best Western is that carbon monoxide can continue to cause organ and tissue damage for other to 40 days after exposure. A condition called Delayed Neurological Sequelae (DNS) is caused by the carboxyhemoglobin continuing to bond to the red blood cells for extended periods of time after the carbon monoxide poisoning. See our treatment of DNS at http://carbonmonoxide-poisoning.com/carbon_monoxide_poisoning/carbon_monoxide_delayed_onset.html
The symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure in those who survive include:
Early Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Headache, nausea and dizziness. The more the exposure, the more severe the symptoms become. Loss of consciousness which does not result in death may occur, as well as memory problems and confusion. The problem with identifying loss of consciousness in a hotel, is that most of the guests would be expected to be asleep for much of their stay.
Heart Symptoms after Carbon Monoxide Exposure.
Potential heart and cardiovascular problems are varied. It may begin with tachycardia – an increase in heart rate (rapid heart beat). This is in response to insufficient oxygen (hypoxia.) Hypotension (a drop in blood pressure) with possible syncope (fainting) can also occur. Dysrhythmia’s (an irregular heart beat) and other heart issues, including heart attacks, can also occur.
Kidney Failure and CO.
Carbon monoxide can also cause kidney failure.
Unborn Babies and Carbon Monoxide.
As with most toxins, it is much more dangerous to unborn babies.
For more on the symptoms of carbon monoxide damage, see http://codamage.com/carbon_monoxide_poisoning/carbon_monoxide_symptoms.html
The results of the autopsy of the first couple that died weren’t released until after this second fatal incident. Now is the time for greater diligence, not just to prevent future problems, but to make sure that all those who have been exposed get treated.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
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