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NPSA advises on spinal injuries

NHS directors are this week being sent new information about how to deal with patients who have spinal injuries.

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is sending all NHS nursing directors throughout England and Wales an information card on how to improve the safety of patients with established spinal cord injuries while they are in hospital.

The information aims to highlight that many spinal injury patients in hospital are being denied a vital procedure known as manual evacuation of the bowel.

Failure to perform this procedure can cause a life threatening condition known as autonomic dysreflexia, which can in turn lead to a fatal cerebral haemorrhage or cardiac arrest.

"It has been clear to us that confusion amongst nursing staff as to the procedures and obligations relating to manual bowel evacuation has potentially put patients at risk," said Paul Smith, executive director of the Spinal Injuries Association.

"Along with the new information card, today's NPSA patient safety information announcement will empower both patients and staff to improve patient safety."

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