Occurrence and Extent of Bruising According to Duration of Administration of Subcutaneous Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin: A Quasi-experimental Case-Crossover Study

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Abstract

Background:

Several authors have documented the role of low-molecular-weight heparin injection techniques in bruising. However, few researchers have measured the influence of injection duration on the occurrence and extent of bruising.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of different durations of subcutaneous heparin injection on the occurrence and extent of bruising.

Methods:

A quasi-experimental case-crossover study design was adopted in 2010. A consecutive series of patients admitted to 2 orthopedic units in a large (600 beds) teaching hospital located in northern Italy were eligible for enrolment. Injections were administered following a standard procedure. The manipulated variable was the duration of the injection, 10 seconds (treatment A) and 30 seconds (treatment B). The evaluation of bruise occurrence and extension performed after 48 hours and data analysis were conducted in a blinded fashion.

Results:

A total of 150 patients receiving their first and second subcutaneous heparin injections (300 injections) were enrolled. Eighty-seven bruises were observed out of 300 injections (29%): 57 of 150 (38%) after injections lasting 10 seconds and 30 of 150 (20%) after injections lasting 30 seconds (relative risk, 1.50; 95% confidence interval, 1.21–1.86; P = .00). Of the 87 bruises that occurred, 69 (79.3%) were small (2–5 mm) and 18 (20.6%) were large (>5 mm), with no difference in size between 10- and 30-second injections (relative risk, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.39–2.12; P = .83).

Conclusions:

Low-molecular-weight heparin injection should be administered over 30 seconds to decrease bruising.

Clinical Implications:

There is a need to reflect on the feasibility of such a practice because injecting low-molecular-weight heparin at 30 seconds requires accuracy, a steady hand, the absence of tremor, a calm environment, and the ability to administer an infinitesimally small amount of liquid (eg, 0.4 mL) per second.

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