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Am J Prev Med. 2007 Jul;33(1):23-7.

Carbon monoxide poisoning at motels, hotels, and resorts.

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Hyperbaric Medicine, Pulmonary/Critical Care Division, Department of Internal Medicine, LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.



Each year, more than 200 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Poisoning has occurred at motels, hotels, and resorts. Congressional mandate requires smoke alarms in all guest rooms; however, smoke alarms do not detect CO.


Data on patients poisoned at hotels, motels, and resorts were evaluated at a hyperbaric medicine service. In 2005, legal databases and online news databanks were searched to discover additional incidents. Only victims evaluated in hospitals or declared dead at the scene were included. Cases of intentional poisoning and poisoning from fires were excluded.


Between 1989 and 2004, 68 incidents of CO poisoning occurring at hotels, motels, and resorts were identified, resulting in 772 accidentally poisoned: 711 guests, 41 employees or owners, and 20 rescue personnel. Of those poisoned, 27 died, 66 had confirmed sequelae, and 6 had sequelae resulting in a jury verdict. Lodging-operated, faulty room heating caused 45 incidents, pool/spa boilers 16, CO entrained from outdoors 5, and unreported sources caused 2 incidents. Public verdicts have averaged $4.8 million per incident (range, $1 million to $17.5 million). Poisoning occurred at hotels of all classes. Despite these incidents, most properties did not install CO alarms, and requirements for CO alarms at hotels, motels, and resorts are rare.


Guests of motels, hotels, and resorts remain at risk for injury or death from CO poisoning. Measures to prevent CO poisoning of guests and employees of the lodging industry should be evaluated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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