Hospitals mistakenly gave unsterilized saline to patients

According to health officials, at least 40 patients from seven different states, including Florida, were given unsterilized intravenous fluids at hospitals. The fluid bags had simulated saline inside, which is primarily used when health providers are practicing how to administer the solution to mannequins. Due to the incident, one person died, but doctors are unsure if the death was directly linked to the unsterilized saline.

The symptoms, which appeared right after the fluids were administered, included chills, tremors, headaches and fevers, resulting in several hospitalizations. News sources say that the products were distributed in May 2014, but it is unclear how the bags were delivered to the hospitals. The company that produces the solution stated that the bags are only sold to educational institutions.

Reports indicate that only one medical facility realized that the saline was intended for simulation and sent it back to the distributor. The Food and Drug Administration warned medical professionals that they should always ensure that the fluid bags are not training products intended for simulation and that patients can ensure their safety by checking if the bag is marked as sterile.

Hospital mistakes such as this one may cause a patient’s existing illness to become significantly more serious in nature, resulting in extended hospital stays, higher medical bills and lost wages. A lawyer might be able to assist an individual in this situation recover restitution for the damages he or she incurred due to the error. A medical malpractice claim may be warranted against the medical facility and staff responsible for a patient’s injuries.

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