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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2008 Sep 1;65(17):1648-54. doi: 10.2146/ajhp070471.

Standardization of infusion solutions to reduce the risk of incompatibility.

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Department of Hospital Pharmacy, Donauspital, Vienna, Austria.



Although critically ill patients usually have various central intravenous (i.v.) lines, numerous drugs have to be infused simultaneously through the same lines. This can result in potentially harmful in-line incompatibility that can cause decreased drug effectiveness or increased microparticle load. To minimize the risk of these medication errors at an anesthesia intensive care unit (ICU), the preparation and administration of continuously infused drugs were standardized and the practicability in daily clinical routine was evaluated.


The concentration and diluent of continuously administered i.v. drugs were standardized. The drugs were grouped according to pH, medical indication, and chemical structure. The ICU staff decided to use multilumen central venous catheters, and each group of drugs was assigned to one lumen. Only drugs that belonged to the same group were infused simultaneously through the same lumen; therefore, intragroup incompatibilities had to be excluded before establishing the new drug administration plan at the ICU. The visual compatibility of 115 clinically reasonable intragroup drug mixtures was investigated. All drug combinations were compatible for six hours except mixtures containing thiopental, which was reassigned to a single-line use. In the following year, the practicability of this drug administration plan was evaluated. No deviations were found in the compliance of the staff prescribing and preparing only standardized concentrations and diluents. Further research to investigate the chemical compatibility of the drugs in these multiple mixtures will follow.


A project intended to avoid incompatibility among i.v. drugs infused in the intensive care setting included steps to standardize solutions and determine which could be given together.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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