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Friday 28th October 2016

Oxygen care needs improvement

22nd October 2009

The National Patient Safety Agency has raised concerns about use of oxygen treatment in hospitals.

It fears that patients receiving oxygen treatment are being put at unnecessary risk because of poor monitoring and faulty equipment and has given hospitals in England and Wales until the end of March to improve.

The ruling comes amid concerns – highlighted under the voluntary reporting scheme - that patients are being seriously harmed and even dying as a result of problems.

The therapy is given to about 2m patients a year with lung problems, trauma and those with serious infections.

Tara Lamont from the NPSA said: "All the serious incidents were preventable. That is why we have put out the alert. No-one should be dying because a gas cylinders runs out of oxygen. It is not acceptable.

"The issue with oxygen is that it is often not seen as a medication. It is not a priority and safety checks are not being followed.”

Figures suggest 44 people have died in around 300 incidents over the past five years.

The Action Against Medical Accidents charity said it was pleased the “long-running problem” had been taken up by the NPSA.

Dr Ronan O'Driscoll from the British Thoracic Society said: “For the last 10 to 15 years, oxygen has often not been seen as important. It has been viewed as safe and not needing such attention. That is now changing.”

The most common problems highlighted were faulty equipment, cylinders being left to run empty and mistakes administering the treatment, including giving air instead of oxygen.


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