Risk of death and severe harm from ingestion of superabsorbent polymer gel granules
A Patient Safety Alert has been issued around the risk of death and severe harm from ingestion of superabsorbent polymer gel granules.
Superabsorbent polymer gel granules are widely used in health and social care, typically as small sachets in urine and vomit bowls. On contact with liquid, the small sachet opens and the granules absorb, expand and solidify the liquid. This can protect people’s bedding and clothing and reduce the risk of slipping on liquid.
If the gel granules are put in the mouth they expand on contact with saliva risking airway obstruction. This has happened where people have mistaken the sachets for sweets, or sugar or salt packets, but some incident reports also describe attempts of deliberate self-harm.
The alert asks providers to review their overall approach to using these products.