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Warning issued as hospital equipment fails

10th May 2010

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has sent out a warning about hospital anaesthetic equipment.

heart surgery

The MHRA said there had been five "serious" cases over the last year in which patients had suffered "breathing-system blockages" and other injuries.

A spokesperson for the MHRA originally stated that deaths had been caused by faulty equipment, althought the statement was later withdrawn.

The MHRA said around 250 cases annually "usually related to the way the equipment is used rather than a fault in the device itself" and added that they were not aware of deaths caused by or in relation to use of the devices over the last five years.

The alert referred to one case where during an operation a breathing device was connected to an incorrect part of the machine. The patient involved suffered a collapsed lung and had to have a chest drain fitted to relieve the problem.

Around 3.5 million operations carried out by the NHS every year require the use of an anaesthetic.

The MHRA alert advised the use of a "self-inflating bag" in case problems occurred.

"When problems with patient ventilation occur, consider the immediate use of a self-inflating bag," it stated. "This may identify the site of the problem, while maintaining ventilation and oxygenation."

 

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