NICE Issues IV Drip Safety Reminder To UK Hospitals

NICE Is Urging Hospitals To Improve Safety Regarding IV Drip Administration


UK hospitals need to improve safety standards when administering drips containing intravenous (IV) fluids, according to a new report.

The National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) has suggested appointing a specialist in the area could be one option in improving the procedure.
This follows the publication of the National Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths report, which revealed one in five patients being treated with an IV drip experience complications due to mishandled administration.

Mistakes relating to this are often made in emergency departments due to the nature of such cases, but they are also common on general wards and in acute admission units, which raises significant concerns relating to the safety of patients.

Complications can arise from too much or too little IV fluid entering a person's system, with the former potentially causing pneumonia and heart failure and the latter possibly damaging the kidneys.

In light of this, Nice is calling for healthcare trusts to introduce new measures that would see specialists appointed to administer IV drips, with a detailed plan being drawn up for each patient's treatment. 

They would then monitor exactly how much fluid and electrolytes they were receiving over the next 24 hours, before creating a comprehensive plan for the monitoring of this for the remainder of their hospital stay.

In addition, NICE believes a patient's next of kin should be involved in the process if needed so medical staff can best determine treatment plans, which could also potentially lead to improved safety standards due to greater emphasis on a person's long-term wellbeing.

Deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE Professor Gillian Leng commented: "Our quality standards aim to help healthcare professionals in the NHS pinpoint the areas where improvements are most needed to provide the best care for patients.

"With the new standard for IV fluid therapy, we hope to make sure that every patient, wherever they are, can be confident that they will be treated safely and effectively during their stay in hospital."

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority and it is alarming that the recent enquiry has revealed failings in the way IV drips are administered to patients. It is vital the NHS takes the advice of NICE on board and considers implementing new measures to improve such procedures and prevent patients from suffering complications due to mishandled administration.

“It is vital IV drips are administered to patients correctly, as too little or too much fluid entering a person’s system can lead to further complications. All too often we see the damage that can be caused to patients when procedures are not carried out correctly and it is crucial action is taken to identify the failings and they are resolved as soon as possible.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner