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

NHS Lothian Medical Director supports electronic medical records

Here is a letter from Dr Charles Swainson in the Evening News.

Centralised records improve healthcare
I was dismayed to read Dr John Welford’s letter, “System to blame for record losses, not medical staff” (News, 31 July).

Centralisation and computerisation of medical records have little to do with losing patients’ confidential medical information.

The mass computerisation he mentions refers to the introduction of a modern patient management system in NHS Lothian, TRAK, which is gradually building an electronic medical record for each patient. Currently it contains basic demographic data and contact details, service attended, laboratory and radiology results, and letters. Other key parts of the records, such as operation notes, are held on a computerised surgical database which is looked after by the surgeons.

There are huge advantages to these systems in terms of providing faster, safer healthcare. Each patient may benefit from the expertise of an extensive medical team, all working from different locations. They may be receiving care from a team including their GP, radiologists, oncologists and other health professionals. Hosting these records centrally, in one place, cuts delay and allows every member of the team access to full information on the patient to inform their expert contribution to that person’s care.
Dr Charles Swainson, medical director, NHS Lothian

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