Intended for healthcare professionals


Safety agency calls for old syringe drivers to be phased out, after deaths

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 07 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d795
  1. Jacqui Young
  1. 1London

NHS organisations have been told to phase out older style ambulatory syringe drivers, which are widely used in palliative care, after eight deaths in five years.

The National Patient Safety Agency issued the guidance to NHS organisations in England and Wales after 167 patient safety incidents between 1 January 2005 and 30 June 2010. The eight deaths, four of which occurred in 2009, were a result of over-infusion of opiates. The agency says that significant overdoses of opiates given through over-infusion are likely to have caused respiratory depression or respiratory arrest.

Ambulatory syringe drivers are mainly used to deliver opioids in …

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