In-use contamination of intravenous infusion fluid

Appl Microbiol. 1974 Nov;28(5):778-84. doi: 10.1128/am.28.5.778-784.1974.


During the 1970 to 1971 nationwide epidemic of septicemias caused by Enterobacter cloacae and Enterobacter agglomerans traced to intrinsic contamination of Abbott intravenous infusion products, 94 infusion systems manufactured by Baxter Laboratories were studied microbiologically and epidemiologically during hospital use. Intravenous fluid from 10 systems (11%) contained microorganisms, usually Staphylococcus or Bacillus species; one infusion was heavily contaminated with Klebsiella pneumoniae. No national epidemic organisms, E. cloacae or E. agglomerans (formerly Erwinia), were recovered, suggesting that during this period frequent contamination with these organisms was unique to Abbott's infusion products. Contamination in this study appeared to be extrinsic in origin (introduced during clinical use) and related to the duration of continuous intravenous therapy. Nine of 61 systems (15%) that had been used longer than 48 h were contaminated, whereas only 1 of 33 used less than 48 h (3%) contained microorganisms. This study and the recent national outbreak indicate that contamination of infusion fluid, both from intrinsic and extrinsic sources, must be recognized as an additional risk of intravenous therapy; however, a once-daily replacement of the delivery apparatus can significantly diminish this hazard.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / isolation & purification
  • Cross Infection / etiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks / etiology*
  • Drug Packaging
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / etiology*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral / adverse effects*
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Micropore Filters
  • Phlebitis / etiology
  • Sepsis / etiology*
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification
  • United States