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Explaining the Importance of Multiple IV Infusion Safety

Explaining the Importance of Multiple IV Infusion Safety

Intravenous (or IV) therapy has been used widely since the 1960s and is considered to be the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications into the body (yielding a bioavailability absorption of 100%). But just like any piece of medical equipment or any healthcare treatment, infusion systems are not without their drawbacks. IV pump training, combined with advancements in the field, can make their use more beneficial --and far less risky --to patients.

There’s now an increased emphasis on IV pump training and error reduction with single infusion pumps. And yet the practice of using multiple IV infusions on the same patient, while common, is often left out of the safety discussion. The research pertaining to errors that can result from multiple IV infusions is quite scarce, despite the fact that they frequently utilize this practice.

Understandably, administering multiple IV infusions to the same patient is more complex than administering merely one infusion. It’s essential for healthcare facilities to understand the complications associated with multiple IV infusions in order to prevent errors from occurring. These problems may include the mix-ups of pumps and infusion lines, medication errors, and improper setup, all of which have the potential to result in harm to the patient.

In a guide published by the AAMI Foundation, the term “multiple IV infusions” references the administration of two or more liquids or medications to an individual patient through one or more venous catheters. This term encompasses both intermittent and continuous IV infusions. Recommendations made by AAMI for safer use of multiple IV infusions include:

  • Labeling of all primary IV tubing
  • Improved organization of the infusion system
  • Use of more accessible patient gowns for proper line tracing
  • Standardization of medication concentrations
  • Consistent use of the same pumps among patients
  • Minimization of shared infusion volume amounts
  • Aversion of outdated practices that can lead to medical interruptions
  • Improved IV pump training among staff members
  • Reduction of high-alert medication disruptions

The use of infusion pumps --and often, multiple IV infusion lines --is necessary for countless patients in healthcare facilities all across the country. While this technology has undoubtedly improved the lives of these patients, it must also be noted that improper equipment use can lead to serious errors. To ensure these infusion systems are utilized as intended and that patients receive the high level of care they deserve, medical centers must prioritize the need for IV infusion safety policies and training, as well as the best equipment available on the market today.