By Heather Michon |
From the pointy end of the needle, infusion nursing may look like a relatively simple matter of just finding a vein and placing a needle in it.
Fifty years ago, that may have been the case. But as the use of IVs and infusion nursing has become more ubiquitous, the field has become increasingly professionalized and science-based. Today, medical researchers all over the world look at ways to make IV therapy safer, more useful, and more comfortable for patients.
IV Therapy Standards of Care
Many clinicians feel that this is a “golden age” in infusion nursing, an exciting time where there’s always more data coming into view and more innovations coming onto the market. But how to keep track of it all? How do clinicians make sure they’re always following best practices when it comes to patient care?
That’s where the “standards of care” come in. Each hospital and each specialty has their own professional guidelines, including everything from how to talk with patients to what types of dressings to use on a wound.
In infusion nursing, this most often means adhering to the Infusion Nurses Society’s (INS) “Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice.” Stretching over 150 pages, the “Standards of Practice” details an infusion nurses’ professional responsibilities and best practices.
What Does It Mean For Patients?
Most importantly, these protocols are put in place to give patients a better and safer experience. The INS recommendations are based on their evaluation of hundreds of academic studies, including:
- Using specialized dressings to cover insertion points, which studies indicate may lower the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs)
- Using the smallest-gauge needle possible, both for patient comfort and to lower the risk of phlebitis, or inflammation of the vein
- Limiting the number of attempts to start an IV to no more than two by any single nurse, and no more than four total, to reduce both patient anxiety and discomfort
Nothing can fully remove the anxiety many patients experience when faced with the need for an IV or another vascular access device. But, it can bring some peace of mind to know so many professionals are working on ways to make these procedures safer and more comfortable for the patient.
And remember: you are your own best IV advocate. If you feel like you’re getting anything less than the standard of care, don’t be afraid to speak up! Check out more information on what to expect and what to look out for during your IV experience.