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Information update

Hydroxyethyl starch solutions should not be used in some critically ill patients

Starting date:
June 24, 2013
Posting date:
June 24, 2013
Type of communication:
Information Update
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Important Safety Information
General Public
Identification number:


Health Canada and the manufacturers of blood volume expanders containing hydroxyethyl starch (HES) solutions recommend that these products no longer be used in critically ill patients with certain health conditions.

HES solutions are used to replace lost blood in patients who are critically ill and experience a sudden drop in blood pressure (for example, following surgery).

Specifically, HES solutions should not be used:

  • in patients with sepsis (a serious complication that can develop from an infection),
  • in patients with severe liver disease, and
  • in certain types of patients with impaired kidney function.

Some recent studies have compared HES with other blood volume expanders in critically ill patients with sepsis. These studies suggest that patients treated with HES are at a higher risk of kidney failure or death.

Health Canada will work with the manufacturers to update the drug labels of these products and will communicate with healthcare professionals and consumers when the labels have been updated.

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