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J Emerg Nurs. 2013 Jan;39(1):86-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2012.04.017. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Comparing subcutaneous fluid infusion with intravenous fluid infusion in children.

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Mercy Children’s Hospital, St. Louis, MO 63129, USA.



This study examined subcutaneous (SC) infusion as a parenteral alternative for children with mild to moderate illness. The purpose was to compare the difference in infusion start time of parenteral fluid between an initial SC order and an initial intravenous (IV) order. In addition, the number of needlesticks a child received for each method was evaluated. This study also sought to address the following question: If SC fluids were given and an IV attempt was made later, did the administration of SC fluids enhance the success of venous cannulation?


A retrospective descriptive design was used for review of medical records for 36 children from November 2008 to May 2010 who had received SC fluids only or received SC fluids after 2 or more failed IV attempts.


The IV/SC group had significantly longer time to infusion (M = 97.33 minutes) than did the SC group (M = 20.95 minutes; U = .000; P < .001). The IV/SC group included the number of needlesticks for the intravenous attempts plus the needle stick needed for the subcutaneous infusion. A significant difference was found between the 2 groups (mean IV = 4.87; mean SC = 1; Z = .000; P < .001).


In a child who is not seriously ill, SC infusions appear to facilitate the initiation of parenteral rehydration. SC infusions minimized the number of needlesticks a child endured. More study is needed to determine if SC fluids enhance success of subsequent venous cannulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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