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Patients Can Be Injured Due to Tubing Misconnections

Oldham & Smith Dec. 7, 2016

When individuals are at the hospital or need in-home care, they may use a variety of systems and medical devices to receive food and medication and to properly pass waste. Whether the system includes a catheter, syringe or other tubing, it is usually comprised of multiple parts, including connectors. These parts are often packaged together to ensure medical professionals can easily and accurately assemble and use the devices. However, when individuals require multiple medical systems or devices, it is possible for healthcare professionals to accidentally attach a device to the incorrect connector or tubing. These misconnections can lead to serious injuries, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA Warns About Medical Device Misconnections

When one medical device is attached to the incorrect tube or connector, it is possible for the medical device to deliver a medication or substance to the wrong area of the body. This type of mistake can lead to a serious patient injuries and death. The FDA found multiple reasons why misconnections occur in healthcare settings, including:

  • Connectors may be similar shapes and sizes

  • Human error can arise from not enough training, poor lighting, fatigue, pressure and stress

Potential Injuries and Reasons for Fatalities

The FDA provides a number of examples of misconnections, including an epidural tube connected to a patient’s IV tubing. The epidural medication was delivered to the patient through an IV in the arm and the patient was killed. Another example is when a patient’s IV tube was mistakenly connected to a nebulizer treatment. When the patient inhaled, some IV fluids aspirated into the patient’s lungs. The respiratory therapist in this case noticed the misconnection and the patient lived. While some misconnections may have a low risk for injury or death, it is clear that connection mistakes can be grave.

Reducing the Risk of Misconnection Injuries and Deaths

Along with the examples of dangerous misconnections, the FDA provides a number of tips for reducing the risk of these errors, such as:

  • Labeling certain connections

  • Color coding

  • Additional training

However, the FDA warns that inconsistencies in applying these methods means they are not always effective.

Contact a Tavares Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you were injured because your medical provider connected the wrong device and tube, you should contact a Florida personal injury lawyer right away. Your provider may have negligently deviated from their standard of care, which led to your being hurt. If you and your attorney can demonstrate this negligence or carelessness to the court, you may be able to recover for the medical costs associated with this injury, any lost wages, and pain and suffering.

For more information about your rights, contact Oldham & Smith.