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FDA reports 40 patients given unsterilized saline

Arizona residents may be interested to know that at least 40 patients in seven states mistakenly received unsterilized, practice intravenous fluids while in the hospital instead of the sterile saline solution that is protocol, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several patients became ill and one person may have died as a result, though doctors are not positive the unsterilized solution was to blame for the death.

The practice saline, which is produced for use at medical and nursing schools, was distributed by San Diego-based manufacturer Wallcur beginning on May 22. The FDA did not provide information on when patients were mistakenly given the solution, but it said the incidents occurred in Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, New York and North Carolina.

Many of the patients who were given the unsterilized solution experienced chills, tremors, fevers and headaches immediately afterward. Because they were already in a hospital, most patients were able to receive prompt medical care.

The FDA advised hospitals and medical professionals to carefully check all saline bags to ensure they are not training bags. It also said any patients receiving IV saline treatments should check that the bag is clearly labeled as sterile.

Wallcur recalled the training bags on Jan. 7 after learning of the incidents. The company issued a statement saying it only makes practice saline bags and does not sell the bags to hospitals. It is unknown how the hospitals acquired the unsterilized bags.

Patients who receive an incorrect or unsafe medication, including a product like unsterilized saline that was never intended for medical use, could become severely ill or die. Anyone who has been a victim of or lost a loved one to a similar case of medical malpractice may wish to speak with an attorney about their legal options. It may be possible to obtain a settlement for damages.

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

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