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Medical Tubing Errors Leading to Adverse Events Including Death

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New York, NYIn-hospital mix-ups between feeding tubes and tubes that enter veins are linked to adverse events, including death, in some 16 percent of hospitalized patients, according to a 2006 hospital survey, the New York Times is reporting.

Apparently, the problem of tube mix-ups is not new, and happens because much of the tubing used in the hospital setting is interchangeable.

According to the report in the NY Times, "Tubes intended to inflate blood-pressure cuffs have been connected to intravenous lines, leading to deadly air embolisms. Intravenous fluids have been connected to tubes intended to deliver oxygen, leading to suffocation. And in 2006 Julie Thao, a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, WI, mistakenly put a spinal anesthetic into a vein, killing 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, who was giving birth." Mrs. Thao had reportedly worked two eight hour shifts the day before the incident. She was charged with felony neglect, and pleaded no contest to two misdemeanour charges.

The federal Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing whether feeding tubes that can be mistakenly connected to intravenous tubes should be declared unsafe.

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