Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has announced there will be an urgent probe into the use of faulty opioid syringe pumps extending across the NHS, amid concerns their role in the Gosport death scandal was deliberately overlooked.
The devices, which deliver opioids into the bloodstream, have no “stop” button and have been described as “confusing and “really dangerous”. They were designed to administer drugs automatically, however, after safety concerns were raised, they were banned in the NHS in 2015.
One model is set to deliver opioids over 24 hours while the other, which looks indistinguishable, performs the same function in one hour. This can result in patients potentially being at risk of receiving a day’s allocation of drugs in just 60 minutes.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Following a safety alert issued in 2010, these specific syringe drivers should have been withdrawn completely by the NHS by 2015… However, the Health Secretary has asked officials to urgently look into this matter, to ensure that no unsafe devices of this kind are being used.”
Mr Hunt also added that officials would “look at whether the NHS did react quickly enough when it first found out about the safety consequences of these syringes.”
Ally Taft, Partner at the Medical Accident Group, said that, “the potential consequences of administering opioids using these devices is shocking and extremely dangerous. It is very disturbing that potentially several hundreds of patients and their families have been put through avoidable pain and heartache.”
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