Small-Volume Injections: Evaluation of Volume Administration Deviation From Intended Injection Volumes

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In the perioperative period, anesthesiologists and postanesthesia care unit (PACU) nurses routinely prepare and administer small-volume IV injections, yet the accuracy of delivered medication volumes in this setting has not been described. In this ex vivo study, we sought to characterize the degree to which small-volume injections (≤0.5 mL) deviated from the intended injection volumes among a group of pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric postanesthesia care unit (PACU) nurses. We hypothesized that as the intended injection volumes decreased, the deviation from those intended injection volumes would increase.

METHODS:

Ten attending pediatric anesthesiologists and 10 pediatric PACU nurses each performed a series of 10 injections into a simulated patient IV setup. Practitioners used separate 1-mL tuberculin syringes with removable 18-gauge needles (Becton-Dickinson & Company, Franklin Lakes, NJ) to aspirate 5 different volumes (0.025, 0.05, 0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 mL) of 0.25 mM Lucifer Yellow (LY) fluorescent dye constituted in saline (Sigma Aldrich, St. Louis, MO) from a rubber-stoppered vial. Each participant then injected the specified volume of LY fluorescent dye via a 3-way stopcock into IV tubing with free-flowing 0.9% sodium chloride (10 mL/min). The injected volume of LY fluorescent dye and 0.9% sodium chloride then drained into a collection vial for laboratory analysis. Microplate fluorescence wavelength detection (Infinite M1000; Tecan, Mannedorf, Switzerland) was used to measure the fluorescence of the collected fluid. Administered injection volumes were calculated based on the fluorescence of the collected fluid using a calibration curve of known LY volumes and associated fluorescence.

METHODS:

To determine whether deviation of the administered volumes from the intended injection volumes increased at lower injection volumes, we compared the proportional injection volume error (loge [administered volume/intended volume]) for each of the 5 injection volumes using a linear regression model. Analysis of variance was used to determine whether the absolute log proportional error differed by the intended injection volume. Interindividual and intraindividual deviation from the intended injection volume was also characterized.

RESULTS:

As the intended injection volumes decreased, the absolute log proportional injection volume error increased (analysis of variance, P < .0018). The exploratory analysis revealed no significant difference in the standard deviations of the log proportional errors for injection volumes between physicians and pediatric PACU nurses; however, the difference in absolute bias was significantly higher for nurses with a 2-sided significance of P = .03.

CONCLUSIONS:

Clinically significant dose variation occurs when injecting volumes ≤0.5 mL. Administering small volumes of medications may result in unintended medication administration errors.

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