Intravenous therapy: preparation and administration of IV medicines

Br J Nurs. 2011;20(4):S28, S30-4. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2011.20.4.S28.


The aim of this article is to review the preparation and administration of intravenous (IV) therapy and to outline safe standards of practice. This article reviews the preparation for the procedure and then outlines actions for preparing--the patient, the practitioner, the environment and equipment, and then the medication--before describing the administration of any IV medication, whether via a bolus, intermittent or continuous route. A review of errors in IV therapy indicated calculation skill and a wide knowledge is required, while the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) (2010) highlighted omited and delayed medications as the second largest cause of medication incidents. Therefore the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (2010) suggested each practitioner must have knowledge of the principles of reconstituting, including aseptic technique, compatibility (physical, chemical, and therapeutic), stability, storage, labelling, interactions, dosage, calculations and the use of appropriate equipment. Furthermore, Finlay (2004) advocated that training must also include the management of anaphylaxis. The necessity for safe and consistent IV practice is endosed and explored through Crimlisk et al's (2009) nine rights of IV medications, and Billings and Kowalski's (2005) mnemonic (CATS:PRRR).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Peripheral / nursing*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / standards
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps / standards*
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care*