A reminder that a National Patient Safety Alert has been issued around the risk of harm to babies and children from coin/button batteries in hearing aids and other hearing devices.
Babies and young children (under five years) can suffer serious injury if they ingest coin/button batteries or poke them into their nostrils or ears. While the larger lithium batteries have the greatest potential to cause harm, including death, the smaller zinc-air batteries, used in hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) and similar equipment, still present a significant risk.
This National Patient Safety Alert requires all organisations supplying NHS-funded hearing aids to ensure those issued to babies and children under five years of age have secure battery compartments. Where hearing aids are issued to older children and adults, organisations are required to consider the need for a secure battery compartment for anyone living with young children and babies, or with a person with additional risk factors, such as those with a significant learning disability, dementia or other cognitive or sensory impairment.
The NHS England and NHS Improvement patient safety team is the first national body to have been accredited to issue National Patient Safety Alerts by the National Patient Safety Alerting Committee (NaPSAC). All National Patient Safety Alerts are required to meet NaPSAC’s thresholds and standards. These thresholds and standards include working with patients, frontline staff and experts to ensure alerts provide clear, effective actions for safety-critical issues.
NaPSAC requires providers to introduce new systems for planning and coordinating the actions required by any National Patient Safety Alert across their organisation, with executive oversight.
Failure to take the actions required under any National Patient Safety Alert may lead to CQC taking regulatory action.