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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2001 Mar;22(3):136-9.

Optimal frequency of changing intravenous administration sets: is it safe to prolong use beyond 72 hours?

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  • 1University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.



To determine the safety and cost-effectiveness of replacing the intravenous (IV) tubing sets in hospitalized patients at 4- to 7-day intervals instead of every 72 hours.


Prospective, randomized study of infusion-related contamination associated with changing IV tubing sets within 3 days versus within 4 to 7 days of placement.


A tertiary university cancer center.


Cancer patients requiring IV infusion therapy were randomized to have the IV tubing sets replaced within 3 days (280 patients) or within 4 to 7 days of placement (232 patients). Demographic, microbiological, and infusion-related data were collected for all participants. The main outcome measures were infusion- or catheter-related contamination or colonization of IV tubing, determined by quantitative cultures of the infusate, and infusion- or catheter-related bloodstream infection (BSI), determined by quantitative culture of the infusate in association with blood cultures in febrile patients.


The two groups were comparable in terms of patient and catheter characteristics and the agents given through the IV tubing. Intent-to-treat analysis demonstrated a higher level of tubing colonization in the 4- to 7-day group versus the 3-day group (median, 145 vs 50 colony-forming units; P=.02). In addition, there were three episodes of possible infusion-related BSIs, all of which occurred in the 4- to 7-day group (P=.09). However, when the 84 patients who received total parenteral nutrition, blood transfusions, or interleukin-2 through the IV tubing were excluded, the two groups had a comparable rate of colonization (0.4% vs 0.5%), with no catheter- or infusion-related BSIs in either group.


In patients at low risk for infection from infusion- or catheter-related infection who are not receiving total parenteral nutrition, blood transfusions, or interleukin-2, delaying the replacement of IV tubing up to 7 days may be safe, as well as cost-effective

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