Clinical update

Clinical update – infusion therapy

Infusion therapy

Ensuring the safest care for patients undergoing infusion therapy through updated guidance.

Essential facts

Many patients admitted to hospital or receiving care in other settings, including their own homes, are recipients of one or more infusion therapies. Total parenteral nutrition, chemotherapy, parenteral antimicrobial therapy, pain relief and other infusion therapies are increasingly delivered in community settings.

While the move away from hospital helps meet patients lifestyles and clinical needs, it can have implications for patient care and safety.

Whats new?

The RCN has published updated standards for infusion therapy guided by evidence to ensure the safest care. It is intended to help healthcare professionals ensure each patient receives the most appropriate infusion therapy through the most appropriate device and site, in the most appropriate environment and at the right

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Ensuring the safest care for patients undergoing infusion therapy through updated guidance.


Updated guidance on infusion therapies has been released. Picture: iStock

Essential facts

Many patients admitted to hospital or receiving care in other settings, including their own homes, are recipients of one or more infusion therapies. Total parenteral nutrition, chemotherapy, parenteral antimicrobial therapy, pain relief and other infusion therapies are increasingly delivered in community settings.

While the move away from hospital helps meet patients’ lifestyles and clinical needs, it can have implications for patient care and safety.

What’s new?

The RCN has published updated standards for infusion therapy guided by evidence to ensure the safest care. It is intended to help healthcare professionals ensure each patient receives the most appropriate infusion therapy through the most appropriate device and site, in the most appropriate environment and at the right time.

The standards state infusion therapies, cannulation and phlebotomy are increasingly delegated to healthcare support workers. Nurses must ensure they have delegated these tasks appropriately.

Types of infusion therapy

The scope of infusion therapies includes, but is not limited to, intravenous, subcutaneous, intraosseous and epidural infusions. Therapies may include fluids, medications, blood and blood components and parenteral nutrition.

Risk factors and complications

The move away from traditional hospital settings brings extra risks which need to be considered by nurses delivering infusion therapies. Effective infection prevention and control measures are integral to all aspects of infusion therapy. The guidance sets out how to recognise and respond to complications, such as phlebitis, haematoma and catheter-related bloodstream infections.

How to help your patient

Patient experience is a new section in the updated guidance. When selecting vascular access devices and treatment regimens, it is important to consider patients’ lifestyles as well as their individual infusion therapies and other clinical care needs.

Younger patients may have differing considerations to older patients, and some individuals may have no access to carers. Infusion therapy may only be one element of the patient’s healthcare needs. All factors need to be considered when assessing patients for infusion therapy and they should be able to make informed decisions in partnership with healthcare professionals.

Expert comment

Sue Rowlands, IV resource team lead at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and one of the authors of the RCN standards

‘These standards use the latest evidence to help all nurses working in primary care involved with infusion therapy. More nurses in the community will find themselves caring for such patients, as more treatments such as IV antibiotics shift away from hospital and into home environments.

'While this is often a positive move for both the patient and hospital, it can bring risks. Patients must remain at the centre of their care, they must consent to go home, feel able to do so and have adequate support systems in place for this to happen.

'For nurses there can be challenges to make sure this is ensured and to deliver infusion therapies using aseptic techniques away from a clinical environment.

'The RCN standards will help to inform and develop good governance structures and future commissioning models, vital for nurses working alone in primary and community care environments.’

 

Further information

 

 

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