Medical Device Fires

Early in the morning of October 2005, the County Fire Department responded to a house fire. The tenant was reportedly sleeping on a couch in the living room when he was awakened by his barking dog and heat developing in the room. He escaped the fire, but sadly his wife and two children did not survive. He was a renal (kidney) failure patient on home dialysis treatment and under medication for his medical conditions at the time of the fire. After the fire, the tenant stated that when he was first awakened the home dialysis machine, Cycler “was glowing” and that no other fire was present in the living room.

RTI Group LLC (RTI) was instructed by counsel for the manufacturer of the home dialysis machine, to provide forensic engineering services to assist in determining, if possible, the cause of the fire. More specifically, RTI was retained to identify and examine all potential ignition sources of the fire, including the Cycler, and to review the work of other experts, as appropriate. RTI performed examinations of the evidence and found no indications of abnormal electrical activity in the Cycler. In RTI’s laboratory, testing of an exemplar unit was conducted on the electrical systems, circuit boards, pumps and the housing to determine if there were any existing ignition points or flammability concerns.
In conclusion, the fire could not have been caused by the home dialysis machine. This is supported by the fire damage patterns, collected physical evidence, the materials of construction and operation of the Cycler, testing, and the fire growth timeline described by the tenant and other eyewitnesses.
RTI’s Investigation and laboratory testing helped in obtaining a favorable outcome for the client.

 

 

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