Objective: To compare the rates of phlebitis of peripheral intravenous lines left in place for 72 hours versus rates of those left in place 96 hours.
Design: A prospective, nonrandomized study.
Setting: A university teaching hospital with 375 beds.
Patients: Consecutive adult patients who received peripheral intravenous lines and were admitted to the wards.
Measurements: The phlebitis rates were monitored by the i.v. Team for 1 month according to a predetermined definition for phlebitis: palpable cord or at least two of the following: tenderness, warmth, erythema, and induration.
Results: A total of 2503 peripheral lines were evaluable. The overall phlebitis rate was 6.8%. The phlebitis rates for lines left in for 72 and 96 hours were not significantly different (3.3% vs 2.6%, p = 1.000) by Fisher's Exact Test and survival analysis. It was estimated that in 1 month approximately 300 intravenous lines potentially could be prolonged beyond 72 hours; 215 lines were changed at 72 hours despite no signs of inflammation, 61 lines were kept till 96 hours, and 19 lines were kept beyond 96 hours.
Conclusions: Phlebitis rate for our peripheral intravenous catheters at 96 hours was not significantly different from that at 72 hours. If intravenous cannulas and lines were prolonged to 96 hours, a potential cost saving of $61,200 per year could be realized.