Risk of death and severe harm from ingesting superabsorbent polymer gel granules (2019)

A National Patient Safety Alert has been issued around the risk of ingesting superabsorbent polymer gel granules.

About this alert

Superabsorbent polymer gel granules are used to reduce spillage onto bedding and clothing when patients use urine bottles or vomit bowls, or when staff move fluid-filled containers (eg washbowls and bedpans). If the gel granules are put in the mouth, they expand on contact with saliva risking airway obstruction.

This National Patient Safety Alert requires any organisation still using these products to protect patients by introducing strict restrictions on their use.

About National Patient Safety Alerts

This alert has been issued as a National Patient Safety Alert.

The NHS England and NHS Improvement patient safety team is the first national body to have been accredited to issue National Patient Safety Alerts by the National Patient Safety Alerting Committee (NaPSAC). All National Patient Safety Alerts are required to meet NaPSAC’s thresholds and standards . These thresholds and standards include working with patients, frontline staff and experts to ensure alerts provide clear, effective actions for safety-critical issues.

NaPSAC requires providers to introduce new systems for planning and coordinating the actions required by any National Patient Safety Alert across their organisation, with executive oversight.

Failure to take the actions required under any National Patient Safety Alert may lead to CQC taking regulatory action.

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

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