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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Catheter errors warning

1st May 2009

The National Patient Safety Agency has said that 114 incorrect catheters have been fitted in male patients treated by the NHS over the last two years.


They warned that the consequences of using the wrong catheter on a male patient can be severe, as one patient's death was partially connected to a haemorrhage which occurred after a female catheter was inserted by mistake.

The NSPA said that female catheters should be banned from wards that only treat male patients.

Catheters are used as a draining device to help urine exit the body when patients are unable to move.

Female catheters are usually between 20-26 cm in length, while male catheters are 40-45 cm long.

If a woman is given a male catheter by mistake, it will not cause problems. However, if a man if fitted with a shorter, female device, he can suffer bleeding, pain, swelling, urine retention and renal failure.

57% of the errors reported to the NSPA involved nurses.

NPSA medical director Dr Kevin Cleary said: "Although the 114 incidents that were reported over the last two years represent a very small proportion of catheterisations that occur on a daily basis, they still should not be happening as they can be easily prevented with simple measures."

"We are advising all healthcare organisations that carry out catheterisations to review their current supply systems and limit access to female length catheters where appropriate, such as on all-male hospital wards."



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