10 December 2013
NICE warns of IV drip failures
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has warned the NHS it must do more to combat intravenous (IV) drip failings.
Executives at the organisation believe as many as one in five of all people given a drip will develop complications because of "inappropriate administration" - something that can lead to infections and deaths.
Doctors have previously found that too much fluid can cause pneumonia and heart failure, while not enough can cause extensive damage to kidneys and other internal organs.
In an attempt to solve the issue of poorly implemented IV drip care, NICE bosses have called on doctors and nurses throughout the NHS to follow the so-called five Rs of IV fluid management: reassessment, redistribution, replacement, resuscitation and routine maintenance.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: "We are working with organisations ... to develop an online learning tool so that all medical professionals receive formal training and education on this topic."
One of the main other points of guidance in the NICE report is that starch-based liquids should not be used for fluid resuscitation, a move that comes after the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency suspended the licences of some products after safety concerns.
Dr Jerry Nolan, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine for the Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, said: "[Evidence highlights that starch-based IV products] offer no clear benefit over other IV fluids, are associated with a small increased risk of death and are also more costly than saline-based IV fluids called crystalloids."
While NICE experts point out that education of IV care must be improved, recent figures suggest many nurses in hospitals feel they are being rushed to tend to the needs of patients.
Nine in ten nurses questioned in a survey this summer argued they were so busy on their last shift they could not perform all of the tasks expected of them - something that could contribute to potential medical negligence.
By Francesca Witney
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