Confirming removal or flushing of lines and cannulae after procedures

A directive alert has been issued on the need to confirm intravenous (IV) lines and cannulae have been effectively flushed or removed at the end of the procedure.

Patient Safety incidents are occurring from lapses in identifying and flushing all IV lines and cannulae at the end of a procedure when anaesthetic or intravenous sedative drugs have been given.

If the IV lines and cannulae are not removed or effectively flushed residual anaesthetic and sedative drugs can later be inadvertently introduced into the patient’s circulation causing muscle paralysis, unconsciousness and respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Providers of NHS funded care that undertake surgical interventions or other procedures involving anaesthesia or intravenous sedation are asked to amend the Sign Out section of the WHO Checklist, or equivalent in local use, to include confirmation that before a patient leaves the procedural area cannulae and IV lines have been removed or flushed, and that this is documented.

Patient story

Kathryn recalls her personal experience of temporary paralysis and respiratory arrest after residual anaesthetic drugs were not flushed from her lines and cannulae following surgery.

Patient safety alerts are shared rapidly with healthcare providers via the Central Alerting System (CAS).

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