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Unsterile intravenous fluid given to 40 hospital patients

Residents of Arizona may be interested to learn that at least 40 patients were recently administered a wrong intravenous fluid at hospitals in seven states. Though one of the patients died thereafter and several became ill, doctors have expressed uncertainty as to whether the cause of death was the mistaken intravenous fluid or not. In response to the incident, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a reminder to health care providers warning them to carefully check fluid bag labels before use.

While patients in hospital are routinely administered sterile saline solutions intravenously, the fluid used in these cases was a simulated one meant for training purposes only. Medical personnel sometimes utilize the simulated solution on mannequins as part of their training procedures. In contrast, saline solution has a range of possible medical purposes, such as being used to aid cases of dehydration caused by illness.

Wallcur, the company that manufactures the training solution, issued a recall of the fluid bags on Jan. 7 after it had become aware of the problem. According to a Wallcur representative, the company does not manufacture saline solution, and its products are only intended for clinical simulation. Moreover, the company does not distribute its training product to hospitals, and it is currently unknown how the product came to be used by medical personnel.

In cases such as these, someone who has been administered a non-sterile fluid may suffer severe complications, including a possible bloodstream infection. If hospital negligence leads to the injury of a patient, he or she may be entitled to receive compensation from the hospital itself in some circumstances. An attorney might help a plaintiff to present their case and expedite the receipt of any restitution that is due.

Source: USA Today, "40 patients mistakenly given unsterile intravenous fluid," Liz Szabo, Jan. 15, 2015

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