Retained guidewires still a 'significant patient safety issue'

A study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety examined reports of unintentionally retained guidewires to ascertain the threat to patient safety.

Researchers conducted a retrospective review of unintentionally retained guidewires that were voluntarily reported to The Joint Commission from October 2012 through March 2018. Guidewires are used to place catheters, tubes and other devices.

The study shows unintentional retention occurred during insertion of vascular catheters, devices used during surgery and drainage tubes.

In cases where the guidewire discovery period was known, 39.3 percent were identified after hospital discharge. In 76.7 percent of cases, the harm was categorized as unexpected additional care or extended stay. Additionally, four patients died due to unintentionally retained guidewires.

"Unintentionally retained guidewires remain a significant patient safety issue," study authors concluded.

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