Safety alert on sodium nitrite

A National Patient Safety Alert has been issued on the risk of death from unintended administration of sodium nitrite.

Sodium nitrite has one licensed indication: as an antidote to cyanide poisoning. It can cause significant side effects and is categorised as highly toxic. It should only be available in Emergency Departments.

Incidents have been reported where sodium nitrite was inadvertently administered instead of sodium bicarbonate, and other sodium containing injections. As the packaging and labelling of sodium bicarbonate ampoules are similar to unlicensed sodium nitrite ampoules, mis-selection errors are likely to be due to the inadvertent supply of sodium nitrite outside of Emergency Departments.

NHS acute trusts are asked to remove sodium nitrite injections from all clinical areas except Emergency Departments and replace unlicensed sodium nitrite ampoules with licensed sodium nitrite vials. Pharmacies and Emergency Departments are also asked to change procedures and storage policies for all ‘specialist antidotes’.

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Upcoming Events

Managing Deteriorating Conditions 2021

National Conference Centre Birmingham
19th April

Infection Prevention & Control Conference 2021

National Conference Centre Birmingham
20th - 21st April

BSG Annual Meeting 2021

SEC Glasgow, Glasgow, G3 8YW
19th - 21st May

EBME Expo 2021

Marshall Arena, Stadium MK, Milton Keynes Stadium Way West Milton Keynes MK1 1ST
30th June - 1st July

Central Sterilising Club 60th Anniversary Annual Scientific Meeting

Crowne Plaza, Bridge Foot, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6YR
4th - 5th April