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Patients become ill, 1 dies after intravenous saline mix-up

On Jan. 14, health officials confirmed that many patients fell ill and one patient died after being administered unsterilized, simulated saline by mistake. The blunder happened in seven states, including North Carolina. The Food and Drug Administration says that doctors are not sure whether the simulated saline caused the one death.

The number of patients that this affected has not been specifically disclosed, but health officials say that there were at least 40 cases. It also was not disclosed when the fluids were administered. Many of the patients started to develop headaches, chills, fevers and tremors right away. They generally received fast treatment from the present health staff.

The simulated saline that was used is manufactured by Wallcur, which only makes training products for practicing health professionals to use on mannequins. The simulated saline is only sold to educational institutions and distributors. After learning of the issue, the company recalled all of the product.

The FDA says that most of the medical clinics did not know that the saline was a simulated solution. At least one recognized it as a Wallcur product, however, and sent it back to the distributor upon receipt.

Occasionally, patients are administered the wrong fluids or medications because medical staff are negligent and fail to check labels for correct information. When this happens, the patients could seek compensation through medical malpractice lawsuits if they suffer injury and require further medical attention as a result of the blunder. If patients die because of this negligence, the surviving relatives could file the lawsuits and be entitled to compensation.

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

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