Predisposing factors to phlebitis in patients with peripheral intravenous catheters: a descriptive study

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2008 Apr;20(4):172-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2008.00305.x.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the predisposing factors in the development of phlebitis in peripheral intravenous (IV) catheterization sites in patients treated with a variety of IV infusion solutions and drugs.

Data sources: Systematic observation of 568 IV sites inserted for fluid infusion and drug administration in 355 patients in the Department of General Surgery of a University Hospital in Turkey. A data collection tool was based on standards established by the Infusion Nurses Society. Patients' infusion sites were monitored every 24 h during treatment and for 48 h after discontinuation of the IV.

Conclusions: In contrast to the usual findings in the literature, the authors found that infusion through an infusion pump and insertion of catheters in the veins around the elbow increased the risk of phlebitis. Also, the number of times infusions were started led to an increased rate of phlebitis. However, conflicting results were obtained about the relation between phlebitis, gender, and catheter size.

Implications for practice: Phlebitis causes sepsis, pain, additional diagnostic investigations, and treatments, and may lead to increased duration of hospitalization, patient's stress level, and financial burden, as well as increasing staff workload. Advanced practice nurses need to be aware of the factors that increase the likelihood of phlebitis and take appropriate measures to prevent it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / nursing
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Causality
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Cost of Illness
  • Elbow / blood supply
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Infusions, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Infusions, Intravenous / methods
  • Infusions, Intravenous / nursing
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phlebitis / epidemiology
  • Phlebitis / etiology*
  • Phlebitis / prevention & control
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surgery Department, Hospital
  • Turkey / epidemiology