Nurses and other frontline healthcare staff are being alerted to the risks of inserting the wrong catheters into male patients, in guidance issued by the NPSA.
The guidance is being delivered by the National Patient Safety Agency following 114 reported incidents between 2006 and 2008 where female length catheters were accidentally inserted into male patients.
All incidents of shorter length catheters, intended for use in female patients only, being inserted into male patients has reportedly caused significant pain and other symptoms as adverse as urinary retention and heavy bleeding.
The guidance is intended for all NHS and independent acute, mental health and primary care organisations in England and Wales. It has also been summarised in a poster campaign.
Of the 114 reported incidents, 57% (65) involved hospital nurses, 18% (20) involved hospital doctors and 16% (15) involved community nurses.
Dr Kevin Cleary, Medical Director of the NPSA, said: ‘We are advising all healthcare organisations that carry out catheterisations to review their current supply systems and limit access to female length catheters where appropriate, such as on all-male hospital wards.’