Varied flushing frequency and volume to prevent peripheral intravenous catheter failure: a pilot, factorial randomised controlled trial in adult medical-surgical hospital patients

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Keogh, Samantha
Flynn, Julie
Marsh, Nicole
Mihala, Gabor
Davies, Karen
Rickard, Claire
Griffith University Author(s)
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Background: Research has identified high failure rates of peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) and varied flushing practices.

Methods: This is a single-centre, pilot, non-masked, factorial randomised controlled trial. Participants were adults, with a PIVC of expected use ≥24 hours (n = 160), admitted to general medical or surgical wards of a tertiary referral hospital in Queensland (Australia). Patients were randomly allocated to one of four flush groups using manually prepared syringes and 0.9 % sodium chloride: 10 mL or 3 mL flush, every 24 or 6 hours. The primary endpoint was PIVC failure, a composite measure of occlusion, infiltration, accidental dislodgement and phlebitis.

Results: PIVC average dwell was 3.1 days. PIVC failure rates per 1000 hours were not significantly different for the volume intervention (4.84 [3 mL] versus 7.44 [10 mL], p = 0.06, log-rank). PIVC failure rates per 1000 hours were also not significantly different for the frequency intervention (5.06 [24 hour] versus 7.34 [6 hour], p = 0.05, log-rank). Cox proportional hazard regression found neither the flushing nor frequency intervention, or their interaction (p = 0.21) to be significantly associated with PIVC failure. However, female gender (hazard ratio [HR] 2.2 [1.3–3.6], p < 0.01), insertion in hand/posterior wrist (HR 1.7 [1.0–2.7], p < 0.05) and the rate per day of PIVC access (combined flushes and medication pushes) (HR 1.2 [1.1–1.4], p < 0.01) significantly predicted PIVC failure.

Conclusion: Neither increased flushing volume nor frequency significantly altered the risk of PIVC failure. Female gender, hand/posterior wrist placement and episodes of access (flushes and medication) may be more important. Larger, definitive trials are feasible and required.

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© The Author(s) 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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