Catheter guidewire retention is a “never event”. It is regarded as a preventable error both in the US and UK and it could have serious consequences for a patient.
A guidewire is a thin flexible wire used by doctors to direct a catheter to the right place in the body. A central venous catheter (CVC), also known as a central line, is a tube inserted into a large vein in the neck, chest, groin, or arm to give fluids, nutrition, blood, or medications or to do medical tests e.g. measure blood flow. Following the procedure however, the treating clinician must remember to remove the guidewire and this does not always happen.
If mistakes were made in the use of a catheter and guidewire during your medical procedure, you could be entitled to claim compensation.
At Devonshires Claims, our experienced medical negligence solicitors support patients who have received poor care from their GP, consultant, surgeon, radiologist or other healthcare provider.
We offer victims of medical negligence a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement. This means that you will not be charged any upfront legal costs in order to start your catheter guidewire compensation claim and if your claim is not successful, you will not incur any costs*.
Catheters and Guidewires
Central venous catheters are used for:
- Kidney dialysis for kidney failure
- Fitting a stent in the heart or blood vessels
- Administering long-term medicine for the supply of nutrition, treatment of cancer, infections, or pain.
- Emergency large blood or fluid administration
- Giving medicines that are very effective to the heart
- Taking blood samples frequently—reduces the number of times the patient is pricked with a needle.
The Risks of Using a Catheter Guidewire
Although the technique of using guidewires, known as the Seldinger’s technique, is widely used to place central venous and arterial catheters, it does have multiple potential risks.
According to a research paper published in the PubMed Central, the most commonly reported guidewire-related complications included:
- Cardiac dysrhythmias
- Cardiac conduction abnormalities
- Perforation of vessels or cardiac chambers
- Kinking, looping, or knotting of the wire
- Entanglement of previously placed intravascular devices
- Breakage of the distal tip of the guidewire with subsequent embolization
- Complete loss of the guidewire within the vascular system
A further risk is the fracture of a guidewire. According to research published in the Open BMJ, a retained guidewire may fracture, cause thromboembolic complications or become infected and this is something that can and should be prevented.
Case of a guidewire migrating to the brain
For one patient, an x-ray showed the loss of a guidewire in his body. In fact, the guidewire had migrated to his brain and punctured the part of his aorta which supplies blood to the brain.
The Complications from Losing a Catheter Guidewire in the Body
Research published in Science Direct in 2020 also provides information about the complications which can be caused by the loss of a guidewire including: “Broken and Forgotten: A Case of Unintentionally Retained Foreign Object”:
- infective endocarditis,
- retroperitoneal hematoma,
- pulmonary embolism,
- thrombosis/subsequent cerebrovascular accident,
- pericardial effusion from ventricular perforation,
- chest pain/palpitation,
- lower limb thrombosis.
Complications vary in severity, depending on the length of time from guidewire loss to recovery, which ranges from during the procedure to years.
Unfortunately, guidewire loss often goes unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms and is detected by chance on radiographs. This can then lead to invasive procedures for the patient in order for it to be removed. Retained guidewire can lead to additional invasive and costly diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for its retrieval.
Guidewire Retention Mistakes Are More Common Than We Realise
Researches reviewed the NHS England never event database from August 2004 to July 2015 and noted the following key points about catheter guidewire retentions mistakes:
- There were on average two events per month, or a total of 236 cases.
- Only 11% of retained guidewires are identified during the procedure itself, with the remainder identified during equipment clear-up (6%), after the procedure (4%), at the first check radiograph (23%), or after the first radiograph (55%).
- In 59 cases, the grade of the operator was reported, and among these, 88% were inserted by trainee doctors
- Analysis of causative factors was only possible for 38 cases, and of these, operator’s mistake (32%), operator/human error (16%), and distraction (16%) were the most common.
- Of 163 reported cases, preventative measures instigated were actions taken against the individual clinician (36%), departmental actions such as investigations, additional teaching or reminders (37%), and additional checklists (27%).
How You Can Make A Catheter Guidewire Compensation Claim
If you believe you received negligent medical care and mistakes were made in the use of a catheter guidewire, you could be entitled to claim compensation for the harm you sustained.
A catheter guidewire requires a very skilful operator due to the risk of injury involved. If a guidewire is used incorrectly or left in the body, it could result in serious harm such as a heart attack, stroke, perforation of other organs, sepsis, infections and even death. Compensation may be due for
Contact our experts today for advice on making a No Win No Fee negligence claim for mistakes made in your medical care, surgery and treatment.
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Our experts work hard to secure victims of medical negligence the justice and compensation they deserve.
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