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J Nutr Health Aging. 1997;1(3):161-6.

The utilization of intravenous therapy programs in community long-term care nursing facilities.

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  • 1The Geriatrics and Extended Care Service of the Brockton/West Roxbury VA Medical Center, MA 02401, USA.



To determine if non-federal Boston-area long-term care nursing facilities are actively using intravenous (IV) therapy as a form of treatment, the specific design of such programs and to assess the availability of central line IVs, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes and hypodermoclysis for hydration in this setting. DESIGN/SETTINGS: A prospective telephone survey of 100 Boston-area skilled nursing facilities, each with a minimum of 50 beds and representing a total of 12,763 beds, certified to provide both Medicaid (Title-19) and Medicare services, to ascertain their ability to provide IV and other modes of hydration for their residents.


A series of questions were asked of a member of the staff knowledgeable in the operations of the nursing facility. Questions included whether an IV program was in existence, duration of the program, provider of IV training for nurses, presence of a subacute unit, whether IVs were administered in non-subacute areas, frequency of IV usage, the ability to manage central lines and the use of PEG tubes or hypodermoclysis for hydration.


A total of 100 nursing facilities were surveyed between September and October of 1996. A total of 79 nursing facilities had active IV programs (79%) and 54 of those (68%) also managed central lines. However, in those facilities with active IV programs, 73% (N = 58) reported administering a total of less than five IVs per month. Training for 82% of the nursing facilities (N = 65) was by an outside vendor pharmacy and initial training ranged from one to three days in duration. Of the 19 nursing facilities with IV programs available only in subacute or equivalent units, only 26% (N = 5) did not allow direct transfer of residents from other wards into these units. Of the 79 nursing facilities having IV capability, a total of 91% (N = 72) have also used PEG tubes for hydration and nutritional needs although only 6% (N = 5) have ever used hypodermoclysis for hydration.


The majority of nursing facilities in the Boston area provide IV programs for their residents, although in limited numbers on a monthly basis. Residents with central lines are admitted in the majority of these nursing facilities although total staff training time is only one to three days. The use of PEG tubes for hydration is quite frequent, although the use of hypodermoclysis was extremely low. Further work is necessary to fully elucidate the clinical implications of whether these programs decrease the need for acute hospitalization or are used mainly in the post-hospitalization (Medicare A-covered) period.

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