Inexperienced and untrained junior medics are being put in charge of crucial intravenous drips in hospitals, according to an expert group.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is warning that patients are suffering medical complications, and in very rare cases dying, because of ill-administered intravenous (IV) fluid drips.
IV drips are among the most commonly-prescribed items in a hospital, often being used to help get nutrients, liquids and drugs into a patient’s bloodstream.
Nice says that over and under-prescribing drips, or prescribing the wrong type of fluid, is putting patients at risk.
These can sometimes lead to further health problems for the patient, such as heart failure, kidney problems, lung difficulties and pneumonia. On rare occasions it can even lead to death.
Errors surrounding IV treatments can also increase the chances of a patient getting bed sores and struggling with wounds.
Nice found that often the most junior staff, who may have received little or no training in the field of fluid management, are often left in charge of the drips.
As a result of the investigation, Nice has now issued a new quality standard for the NHS in England.
The new framework sets out how doctors and nurses should deal with drips in hospital. It is hoped the standard will reduce the number of deaths or serious medical complications caused by the mismanagement of IV drips.
Additionally, some experts in medicine have called for “IV champions” to be installed in each hospital. These medics would be experts in IV management and would be responsible for ensuring best practice and training is maintained.
Anyone, who is in charge of an IV drip should be at least “competent” in the field and should stick to a fluid management plan which is regularly reviewed by an experts, according to the new standard.
Any errors in fluid management should also be considered “critical incidents”, according to the new paper.
Source: The Telegraph
Date Published: August 15, 2014
Author: David Brown