Sunday 19 January 2020

Patient was given antiseptic to drink instead of water

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Darragh McDonagh

A critically ill patient was mistakenly given an antiseptic mouthwash to drink instead of water while receiving treatment in intensive care.

The glass was held to the patient's mouth by a consultant, and was partially drank before the mistake was noticed.

He began drooling and became distressed before vomiting shortly afterwards. A complaint said he subsequently suffered from pain, dehydration and fatigue.

It stated that the patient, who is in his 40s, had not had anything to drink for some time prior to the incident. He was dehydrated and therefore gulped the liquid that was handed to him by the doctor.

The incident that occurred at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) on June 12 was the subject of an internal investigation. The patient's family were notified this week that the investigation had concluded, and that new practices had been introduced to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

In a letter to the complainant, hospital management apologised for the incident that occurred in the intensive care unit (ICU), where the patient was "inadvertently given mouthwash to drink instead of water".

It also noted that the consultant involved in the incident had already apologised.

A review carried out by the hospital's pharmacy department established that the main ingredient in the mouthwash that was administered was chlorhexidine - a chemical antiseptic.

"Since this incident, new practices have been implemented to prevent a re-occurrence," stated the letter, signed by general manager Catherine Donohoe and associate clinical director Dr Fionnuala Lavin.

"The clinical nurse managers in ICU and the pharmacy have implemented an oral mouth care guideline of one mouth care episode per single use pour of mouthwash. Any remaining mouthwash should be discarded. The learning from this incident will also be shared across the hospital.

"It is very unfortunate that this incident occurred and we are sorry for the distress that this event caused."

Irish Independent

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