The aims of this study were to investigate the demographics, causes, and contributing factors of retained guidewires (GWs) and to make specific recommendations for their prevention.
The Veterans Administration patient safety reporting system database for 2000–2016 was queried for cases of retained GWs (RGWs). Data extracted for each case included procedure location, provider experience, insertion site, urgency, time to discovery, root causes, and corrective actions taken.
There were 101 evaluable cases of RGWs. Resident trainee (36%), critical care unit (38%), femoral vein (44%), and nonemergent placement (79%) were the conditions most frequently associated with a RGW. While discovery occurred almost immediately (30%) or in next 24 hours (31%), there were instances of RGWs found months (2%) or years (3%) later. Common root causes included inexperience (46%), lack of standardization (35%), distractions (25%), and lack of a checklist (23%).
The results demonstrate the result of human factors–based errors such as posttask completion errors. We recommend human factor–based interventions such as checklists and devices employing forcing functions that do not allow clinicians to complete the insertion process without first removing the GW.