Safety-Alert on wrong tube-connections to respirator

Safety-Alert on wrong tube-connections to respirator

Sven Staender, Andrew Fairley-Smith, Mirka Cikkelova, Rolf Rossaint

The European Patient Safety Foundation (EUPSF) in collaboration with the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA), German Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine (DGAI) and the Swiss Anaesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (SPSA) wants to launch a Safety-Alert on wrong tube-connections to the respirator.

Several cases were reported in Germany, France, Spain and other countries of severe complications with even fatal outcomes after induction of general anaesthesia, caused by wrongly connected tubes to the respirator. 1,2 In addition to that, cases of blocked tubes with fatal outcome have been reported in the UK and the corresponding recommendations published.3,4

The following main errors have been reported:

  • An accidental shortcut of respirator tubes on the level of the water-traps.
  • The wrong connection of the manual ventilating-bag on the expiratory connector of the ventilator
  • Blocking of the tubings (angle-piece etc.) due to e.g. i.v.-caps.

To prevent these cases from happening again, the EUPSF has translated and slightly modificated the corresponding checklists from the German Society of Anaesthesiology (DGAI) for the efficient management of different situations.1In parallel a technical modification of these connectors is currently under debate among regulators and the industry.

General recommendations are:

  1. Proceed with technical check of every ventilator according to the manufacturer’s guidelines before it is connected to a patient
  2. Every anaesthesiologist must confirm that the ventilator is duly functioning
  3. Every ventilator must be equipped with a separate manual ventilating bag
  4. „Self-check“ of most of the ventilators does not detect wrong connection of tubes, water-traps etc.
  5. Perform a short-check of the functionality of the ventilator before each induction of general anaesthesia following the checklists available here below

To download the flyer and checklists in English, please click on the links here below:

To download the original checklists in German, please click here.

1. Prien T et al, Anästh Intensivmed 2019;60:75–83
2. Theissen A et al, Anaesthesia Critical Care & Pain Medicine 2019;38:143-145
3. Carter JA, Anaesthesia, 2004;59:105–107
4. Checking Anaesthetic Equipment-3. 2003. Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, 21 Portland Place London.