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Patient given ‘medical air’ in Reading hospital ‘never event’

An investigation into a reported ‘never event’ found that a patient was given ‘medical air’ instead of oxygen during their care at the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH).

Medical air contains 21% oxygen and is similar to atmospheric air and is typically used by the NHS to drive ventilation equipment and as a power source for driving surgical tools in an operating theatre.

Bosses at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading launched an investigation after the patient was given the wrong air supply in December last year.

The hospital stressed that the patient was not harmed due to the error, but the investigation was launched as the mistake is on the list of ‘never events’ which should not happen.

The hospital’s bosses met to discuss the report last Tuesday and nurse director Debbie Simmons reportedly told colleagues that the Royal Berkshire FT had responded “promptly and robustly to the incident.”

A spokesperson said: “A full investigation was carried out and, like many other hospitals, the RBH has now capped off medical air on wards, apart from respiratory, to minimise the chances of human error.”

Three years ago, an NHS report outlined that as many as 120 patients had died or suffered “serious harm” after medical air was inadvertedly given to them instead of oxygen between 2013 and 2016.

Berkshire West CCG said awareness sessions had taken place on all hospital wards with piped air and that air flow meters had been removed from wards.


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