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Multiple patients get sick after getting simulated saline

New York residents may be interested in a story involving at least 40 patients who were given the wrong intravenous fluid in the U.S. Officials said on Jan. 14 that the patients received an intravenous fluid intended for simulation purposes only. The unsterilized fluid is commonly used to help train nurses and others who practice administering the saline to a high-tech mannequin. Although one person died from the simulated product, it is not clear if the death was directly caused by the substance.

Almost immediate symptoms ranged from fevers and chills to headaches, and they were noticed relatively quickly. The FDA says that staff and patients who receive saline through an IV should check each bag used to make sure that it is sterile. It also recommended that hospitals should spend more time checking saline bags before they are used on patients.

The company that made the saline issued a statement saying that it did not sell to hospitals. Instead, it said that it sold training products to medical or nursing schools. Simulated saline is used for training purposes because it is cheaper than actual saline. The product was recalled on Jan. 7 after learning that it had been used in a manner outside of its intended use.

A patient who suffers adverse effects due to substandard hospital care may wish to take action against the facility. It may also be possible to take action against the doctor or other medical professional who offered the negligent care. With the help of a medical malpractice attorney, an injured patient may be able to hold a medical professional or hospital financially responsible for injuries suffered. Compensation may come in the form of punitive damages or an award to cover lost wages and the medical expenses related to fixing the error.

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

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