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Sutherland A, Canobbio M, Clarke J, Randall M, Skelland T, Weston E. Incidence and prevalence of intravenous medication errors in the UK: a systematic review. Eur J Hosp Pharm. 2020; 27:(1)3-8

Saving time when preparing intravenous antibiotics

09 March 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 5


Preparation of intravenous antibiotic doses takes up a significant amount of nurse time and exposes nurses to the risk of needlestick injury. The use of the Ecoflac® Connect needle-free connector could streamline preparation, reducing the time taken as well as eliminating needlestick injury risk. Because Ecoflac Connect is a closed system, it also minimises the risk of microbial contamination. This study showed that it took 83 experienced nurses 73.6 (SD 25.0) seconds to prepare an amoxicillin injection using the Ecoflac Connect needle-free connector compared with 110.0 (SD 34.6) seconds using the standard needle and syringe method, saving 36 seconds per dose on average, reducing the time taken by one-third. Based on recent government figures, the saving in nurse time would equate to 200-300 full-time nurses in England, equivalent to £6.15 million-£9.23 million a year. Additional savings would accrue from the prevention of needlestick injuries. Where wards are understaffed, this time saving could be critical, increasing time for care.

The preparation of intravenous (IV) medication is risky and the more steps that are involved, the more opportunities there are for error (Sutherland et al, 2020).

Studies indicate that the incidence of errors in prescribing, preparing and administering injectable medicines is about 101 per 1000 procedures (Sutherland et al, 2020). Common types of error include using the wrong drug, incorrect calculations, inaccurate measurement of volumes, wrong diluent/carrier fluid and poor aseptic technique (Sutherland et al, 2020).

In addition to medication errors, a critical risk for nurses is needlestick injury (NSI), also called sharps injury. A recent survey of more than 7500 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members showed that 15% had experienced a sharps injury in 2020 compared to 10% in 2008 (RCN, 2020).

In practical terms, injuries to the hands and fingers can cause considerable distress, discomfort and inconvenience and workflow can be interrupted as additional time is taken to assess, cleanse and protect the wound (Hambridge et al, 2022). To minimise these risks, the Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 in the UK and EU directive 2010/32 require employers to ensure that the use of sharps is avoided ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ or that safer alternatives are used.

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