National Patient Safety Agency issues guidelines on hospital oxygen equipment safety

NPSA advising hospitals to follow new oxygen safety guidance

30 SEPTEMBER 2009

New guidance, produced by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and NHS organisations across England and Wales, has been released aimed at ensuring safer systems are in place to treat patients needing oxygen.

The alert to all NHS acute, community and mental health organisations, as well as the independent sector, follows reports received by the NPSA of 281 serious incidents between December 2004 and June this year.

Of these incidents, poor oxygen management appears to have caused nine deaths and may have contributed to a further 35 deaths.

Common incidents that were highlighted within the reports include:

  • Failure or wrongly prescribed dosage;
  • Failure to monitor oxygen blood concentration;
  • Confusion of oxygen with compressed air;
  • Empty cylinders, faulty and missing equipment.

Dr Kevin Cleary, NPSA’s Medical Director, said: “Oxygen is one of the most common medicines given to thousands of patients each day across England and Wales and most is given safely.  However because of a lack of awareness, oxygen is often given without any prescription and patients are attached to oxygen tubing with no documentation of their medicine on their treatment chart.

Read more about oxygen safety HERE