Healthcare professionals are faced with many obstacles while administering IV medication to patients, which can lead to medical errors and a risk for patient safety. Nearly 40% of medical errors take place during medication administration as it is one of the most intricate processes for healthcare staff. It is critical to ensure the 5 rights of medication administration: the right patient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route, and the right time.
Below are the five best practices for IV medication administration:
1. Identify IV Medication Lines
When multiple IV lines and IV ports are used on a single patient, it can be difficult to quickly identify the right IV tube for each medication. This can lead to an adverse drug event (ADE), which refers to any injury occurring at the time a drug is used, whether or not it is identified as the cause of the injury. Roughly one in 20 hospital patients have experienced an ADE, sometimes resulting in a longer hospital stay and increased costs averaging $3,000 per patient (CastLight Health).
Proper identification and labeling of IV tubes can play a role in preventing IV administration errors. IV wraparound labels help providers avoid line confusion and ensure the right medication and the right dosage is being administered. Often hospitals establish a color standard for drug labels, or they follow ASTM color standards for easy drug identification. Many of these labels feature a center-fold line to make them easy to apply.
2. Remind Staff When It’s Time to Change
Labels can also be important tools to communicate when IV tubes need to be changed to avoid infection. IV Change Reminder Labels include prompts for IV start dates and times, helping to prevent confusion and maximize communication between caregivers. They feature a different, vibrant color for each day of the week, serving as a visual aid to caregivers.
3. Identify Allergies & Special Conditions
IV administration can happen in a hectic atmosphere, with healthcare workers sometimes caring for multiple patients at once. Preventing errors during IV administration is crucial to ensuring smooth operations and patient safety, but sometimes medication allergies or special precautions are missed by the care team. This can happen when the patient’s allergy or special precautions wristband is not visible or noticeable.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Christopher Walters recommends using a visual cue at the site of the IV port to visually alert the provider of medication allergies, instructions or special conditions of surgical patients. Ident-Alert® IV Port Clips, for example, are colored clips that attach to IV injection ports to visually alert the provider to an allergy or special condition.
4. Make It Easy to Return Unused Meds to Inventory
Sometimes unused IV bags and syringes are returned to the inpatient pharmacy if there was a change in the patient’s treatment plan. To help make this process smoother, many hospitals are using removable IV bag labels that make the patient data label easy to remove in a single piece so the IV bag can be returned to inventory. The Renovo™ medication labels also make it easy to re-label an IV bag in the case of an initial printing or labeling error.
5. Follow Protocols and Advocate for Improvements
IV administration errors can have dire consequences. It’s important for healthcare professionals to follow established protocols to help reduce these errors and increase patient safety in their facility. Many of the safety measures in place today are the result of people who advocated for needed changes with the protocols. If you see something, say something. Work with your organization’s clinical quality and risk management channels to bring your ideas for improving safety.
At PDC, our products are focused on helping healthcare providers provide safer, more efficient care. Our pharmacy labels and thermal printers help providers reduce errors with crisp printing, easy barcode scanning, and secure adhesion to medication containers in the demanding healthcare environment.