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Factors predictive of intravenous fluid administration errors in Australian surgical care wards
  1. P Y Han1,
  2. I D Coombes1,2,
  3. B Green1
  1. 1The School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia and Department of Pharmacy, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  2. 2Adverse Drug Event Prevention Project, Queensland Health, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Green
 Center for Drug Development Science, University of California San Francisco, UCDC Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave, Washington, DC 20036, USA;


Background: Intravenous (IV) fluid administration is an integral component of clinical care. Errors in administration can cause detrimental patient outcomes and increase healthcare costs, although little is known about medication administration errors associated with continuous IV infusions.

Objectives: (1) To ascertain the prevalence of medication administration errors for continuous IV infusions and identify the variables that caused them. (2) To quantify the probability of errors by fitting a logistic regression model to the data.

Methods: A prospective study was conducted on three surgical wards at a teaching hospital in Australia. All study participants received continuous infusions of IV fluids. Parenteral nutrition and non-electrolyte containing intermittent drug infusions (such as antibiotics) were excluded. Medication administration errors and contributing variables were documented using a direct observational approach.

Results: Six hundred and eighty seven observations were made, with 124 (18.0%) having at least one medication administration error. The most common error observed was wrong administration rate. The median deviation from the prescribed rate was −47 ml/h (interquartile range −75 to +33.8 ml/h). Errors were more likely to occur if an IV infusion control device was not used and as the duration of the infusion increased.

Conclusions: Administration errors involving continuous IV infusions occur frequently. They could be reduced by more common use of IV infusion control devices and regular checking of administration rates.

  • intravenous fluids
  • drug administration errors
  • patient safety

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