How to Label IV Tubing Correctly
IV fluids are one of the most crucial parts of patient care when it comes to treating patients who need medications in their system quickly. However, because of the nature of IV medications and the fact that many patients often require multiple medications at once, distributing the wrong medication can be deadly. That is why knowing how to label IV tubing correctly is so incredibly important.
There is certain wisdom that can be taken from the Five Rights of Medication Administration and applying it to IV labeling: “The Right Medication, in the Right Dose, at the Right Time, by the Right Route, to the Right Patient.” IV labels should help identify these categories. First and foremost, a label should address what the medication is, including the concentration and ingredients, the volume of the solution, and the medicine’s expiration date. It should then address the drip-rate. You should mark what time the drip will begin and what time it will finish, as well as what level it should be at every hour in between. Lastly, it should identify which patient it should be given to and their room number if applicable. Because IVs are frequently changed, it’s also essential that the day and time of the last IV change be labeled on the tube, so that changing nurses and caregivers will be able to enter a room and know what the patient needs.
For the sake of efficiency and avoiding mistakes when reading the labels, labels should follow a standardized format. Measurements should all follow one system (the metric rather than apothecary system), and hard-to-interpret shorthand or unofficial nicknames should be avoided when possible. This will make labels quick to fill out, double-check, and easy to administer the same way every time.
Be Wary of Color Code Systems
To promote efficiency, some hospitals have considered using a color code system for certain medications. While there is a certain wisdom to this, it isn’t recommended by most professionals. When there is a color code system, it becomes easy to rely on the color of the label rather than reading the label itself, especially when you are in a rush going from patient to patient. That can lead to errors, especially when it comes to administering different volumes of the same medication.
IV tubing is critical to patient care, but it is only rendered effective when we label IV tubing correctly. It may be a small part of any healthcare worker’s day, but it is crucial to preventing errors that can have disastrous results.
Med One carries the most common IV sets used in the Alaris System and other popular infusion pumps. Check out our inventory and request pricing for the tubing set your facility needs.