Don't Reconnect the Tubes


When you visit someone in the hospital, you may be amazed to see how many tubes are connected to them. Sometimes one of these tubes becomes disconnected. But don't try to be helpful and reattach the tube. You could connect it to the wrong thing and cause serious harm.

Many tubes used in the hospital can be connected to each other, even though they don't belong together. For example, several people have died after tubing from a blood pressure machine or an oxygen mask was mistakenly connected to an intravenous tube (which supplies fluid and medicine into the vein). The wrong connection allowed air to enter the vein. These mistakes are easy to make. Most tubes are clear, and they contain either air or clear fluids. The best solution lies with designing tubes so the ones that shouldn't fit together don't. But it may be years before that happens, so always call a nurse immediately to help reconnect any tubing that has become dislodged.

Created on January 1, 2005

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