Keeping IVs flushing

Keeping intravenous catheters (IVs) working is the focus of a new research program aimed at informing best practice in hospitals.
Supported by $100,000 in unrestricted grant funding from Griffith, the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses (ACCCN) and medical technology company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), the research is being undertaken by the Griffith Health Institute. “Dislodgement, occlusion (blocking) or infiltration (fluids into surrounding tissue) accounts for the failure of approximately 30 – 40 per cent of IVs,” said research leader Dr Samantha Keogh from the Institute’s National Centre for Research Excellence in Nursing (NCREN)

IV flushing is a major strategy

“These failures have implications for patient comfort, length of treatment and escalating healthcare costs. “IV flushing is a major strategy used to maintain the viability of IVs, however there is little evidence to inform the best flushing practice. This research will aim to remedy that.”

Dr Keogh said that studies on IV flushing conducted at NCREN so far have shown that pre-filled flush syringes were associated with reduced preparation time, with a potential to reduce infection control risks and promote adherence to recommended practice. “Our observational studies have also highlighted the wide variation in IV flushing practice and diverse understanding of related infection control measures,” said Dr Keogh. As part of this research, a state-wide on-line survey of IV flushing practice amongst Queensland nurses is proposed for 2013.“In addition to what goes into IVs, we need to monitor what comes out of IVs and the Centre is also benchmarking blood sampling practice across critical-care settings. “Excessive or poor sampling practice can contribute to anaemia in the critically ill patient. While blood sampling to inform clinical decision making is vital, strategies have to be developed to minimise excessive or inappropriate blood loss.

Long history of research at BD 

“BD has a long history of supporting research and development that improves safety and quality in intravenous therapy. The research conducted by NCREN will be breaking new ground and it’s exciting to see this happening in Australia,” saidHilary Crilly, Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research atBD in Sydney. “This research is aimed at highlighting quality and safety issues with a view to conducting further research that will inform clinical practice,” said Dr Keogh.