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Can hospitals prevent medical gas mix-ups?

Hospitals are large organizations where everyone is working toward a common goal - treating sick people. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, pharmacists and other medical personal all work as a team to try and create the best possible outcomes. In order for people to be effectively treated, however, everyone must work together as a team. They must come up with a treatment plan and stick to it. Every person must follow through in order to get the job done. Doctors, nurses and other staff, however, are only human. They make mistakes, can act recklessly and they can take a life.

One way Maryland patients can be seriously injured in a hospital is through a medical gas mix-up. In these cases, people are supposed to receive one type of medical gas -- like oxygen -- but receive a different type of gas instead. For example, a person might be given nitrogen instead of oxygen. This mistake can be deadly.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are precautions that hospitals can take to ensure that these mistakes don't occur. First, facilities should make sure to keep different types of gasses apart from each other. In other words, canisters of oxygen should not be stored in the same location as other types of gas.

Systems in the hospital that use medical grade gasses should all use different types of valves. These valves should never be changed under any circumstances so that different types of gasses cannot be connected to the wrong system.

Any hospital staff that works with the gas should also receive training on how to install the gas. This training should include how to distinguish between different types of labels, how to fit the systems and the importance of never changing the type of valve.

If mistakes are made with medical gases, the repercussions can be serious. Medical negligence due to medication errors and other mistakes is often compensable through a medical malpractice suit. Those harmed by such a medical error should understand his or her recourses and what steps to take to protect their rights and interests.

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