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Two patients die after eating absorbent gel granules in hospital

NHS hospitals are warned not to use absorbent gel granules to stop spillages after two confused patients DIED when they tried to eat them

  • The granules absorb moisture and are like the silicone packets inside new shoes
  • Hospitals have been warned of the deadly consequences of eating them before
  • But deaths are still happening because staff aren’t taking them seriously enough
  • The NHS now says they should only be used in ‘exceptional circumstances’  

The NHS has warned hospitals to stop using absorbent gel granules because patients have died after trying to eat them.

Two people suffered fatal consequences after eating packets of the moisture-absorbing pellets by mistake since 2017.

Reports said patients – usually confused or vulnerable people – have either sprinkled the gel on their food like salt or eaten them from urine bottles or drinking beakers.

Fifteen deaths from the same cause were reported between 2011 and 2017, which prompted a warning to hospitals about the dangers.

A warning now sent round the health service has told hospital staff not to use the absorbent products unless its in ‘exceptional’ circumstances.

Confused patients are reported to have eaten the absorbent granules out of bottles they were kept in or to have opened them and sprinkled them on food like salt (stock image)

It said: ‘These incident reports, and NHS purchasing patterns, suggest providers have been relying on local awareness-raising rather than reviewing their overall approach to the use of these products,’ The Independent reported.

‘As a result of these incidents, and new guidance reinforcing that polymer gels are only required for exceptional infection control purposes this alert requires any organisation still using these products to protect patients by introducing strict restrictions on their use.’

The granules, which are similar to the silicone packets in new shoes, are used to stop spillages or to contain up liquids which have already been spilled.

They are made of chemicals which aren’t safe to eat and form small lumps which could become stuck in someone’s throat.

Hospitals were warned in 2017 that a patient had choked on one of the packets after eating one that had been left in an empty urine bottle in their room.

But not all took heed of the advice and deaths have happened again since.

Some incidents involved patients who had been transferred into the care of junior staff who didn’t know about the dangers.

NHS organisations have now been told to block staff from buying the gel granules without the go-ahead from senior staff.

And all hospitals, ambulance trusts and mental health units must stop using them altogether by June 2020, according to the Independent, or make sure they are only used by specialist workers.


NHS bosses have had to scrap millions of pounds worth of Dyson bladeless fans because they pose an infection risk.

Health chiefs forked out £1.2million on thousands of the luxury devices, which cost £350 a piece, between 2013 and 2017.

NHS bosses scrapped thousands of Dyson bladeless fans (pictured), which cost £350 a piece

The trendy fans were installed at approximately 113 NHS trusts in England and Wales in a move that drew criticism at the time.

They were brought in under the presumption they were cleaner than standard ones because there were no blades for dust to pile up on.

But the fans were scrapped last month after NHS guidance warned the gadgets had been ‘linked to healthcare associated infections’.

The official guidance, seen by The Sun, said the fans acted as a ‘reservoir for micro-organisms’.

Bladed fans, on the other hand, were deemed safer, despite costing a tenth of the price.

Staff at some hospitals have been ordered to bag up the Dyson fans, put them in storage and replace them with older models.

 John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said it had been a ‘terrible use of taxpayers’ cash’.

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