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The Importance of IV & Line Labels for Effective Care

How do you prevent adverse drug events (ADEs)? Even with protocols and automation, there are plenty of challenges that confront medical professionals. This post is the first in a four part series that details steps you can take to prevent adverse drug events, improve patient outcomes and meet TJC standards.

IV Lines

The importance of IV & Line labels for effective care, patient safety & The Joint Commission (TJC) compliance

Allergies, juggling multiple medications and dealing with the tangle of tubing that exists when multiple IV infusions need to be administered to a single patient are problematic. And, patient safety data reinforces the ADE challenge. The fact is, roughly one in 20 hospital patient’s have experienced an adverse drug event2.

IV Administration

One of the most common types of hospital errors occur during the administration of intravenous (IV) medications2. As a result, experts believed that advances in technology—such as the use of so-called smart pumps—were the key to solving that problem. But even with these technological advancements, errors still take place during the administration process. In fact, nearly 40% of medical errors take place at this stage4! Although not all ADEs are preventable, it is generally estimated that nearly half are. So even with additional technology assisting the process, nearly 20% of medical errors could be prevented through more effective administration.

The Key To Administration

As you would expect, the key to administration is to supply the correct medication to the correct patient at the correct time. In the hospital, this is generally a nurse or medical care providers responsibility. And when effective medication strategies are enacted, you can prevent adverse results.

Safe Medication Practices

Traditional safe medication practices have been taught using the five rights (administering the Right Medication, in the Right Dose, at the Right Time, by the Right Route, to the Right Patient). However, because they contain no procedural detail, they inadvertently promote the traditional focus on individual performance rather than system improvement5. Procedures for ensuring each of the Five Rights must take into account human factor and systems design issues including such as ineffective double check protocols, problems with wristbands and more that can threaten or undermine even the most conscientious efforts to comply with the five rights5.

Multiple IV Lines And Infusions Add Complexity

The systems design is especially important when patient complexity increases. Managing one IV and line is straightforward. But, when multiple IV bags and lines are involved, the complexity increases. According to a report in Pharmacy Practice News that analyzed errors associated with multiple IV lines:

  • Infusion rate or line mix-ups, IV lines not attaching to patients and errors associated with piggyback infusions were the most common errors associated with multiple IV infusions
  • High- medications were involved in 71 percent of all multiple IV infusion errors and 92 percent of all IV line mix-ups.
  • Using the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, 48 percent of incidents were categorized as harm score D or greater, and 6.2 percent were categorized as harm score E or greater.
  • Nearly all (95 percent) of the errors reached the patient

Without ongoing vigilance, hospitals risk a sentinel event. However, when the systems design and internal protocols include IV Line & identification labels a reduction in the unintended errors of IV line medication can occur. IV Line & identification errors assist the medical staff and guide the right dose at the right time by the right route.

Line & IV Labels

Line and IV Labels help manage the flow of medication into the IV lines. This ensures: Dispensing The Same Drug - IV bags and lines get tangled. A label placed at the top of the line and/or closest to the insertion point helps ensure proper dispensing Same Dose - Medication dosage is often changed from shift-to-shift. Noting the dose on line and bag safeguards consistent medication management Time managed - Start and end times are critical in assuring the proper dosage of the medication is received. In addition, labeling the IV bag with the appropriate medication label makes connecting the right IV line to that bag much simpler. In addition, consistent color coding patterns helps the staff to verify that lines are connected properly.

Types of Line & IV Labels

Flow Strips 

There are times when nurses must manually dispense IV medication. For example, during a power outage or if an automatic IV medication drip isn’t operating, it requires manual dispensing. Indeed, if these conditions do occur, the nurse must manually pump the IV with the proper medication dosage at the proper time. But with multiple patients and responsibilities, that’s a difficult task. A flow strip provides the information nurses need to dispense the medication properly.

Flow Strips

Change Minder Labels

Standard protocols require regular IVs changes to prevent infection. A Change Minder label s the medical staff that the IV needs to be changed on a specific day or date. Also, when the information on the change minders is used in conjunction with the drug type and medical chart, it helps guide the staff on appropriate patient actions. For example, when medication is added to the IV, noting the medication in several places ensures the communication is seen by all caregivers.

Change Minder


Line & IV Labels Enhance Patient Safety

Line and IV labels assist medication administration and simplify various medication management processes. These labels directly impact the medication administration errors that are common across healthcare settings. As a result, the potential for mistakes can be reduced.

Line & IV Labels Are Important For The Joint Commission (TJC) Compliance

Effective labeling is an important element of the 2017 Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals. In addition, The Joint Commission evaluates hospitals for consistency, medication safety and sentinel events. A lack of consistency can lead to serious medical consequences. However, Line & IV labels can help healthcare organizations maintain consistency, improve patient safety and meet Joint Commission standards.

UAL Expertise

United Ad Label has extensive experience with IV and Line labeling. We work with healthcare organizations to ensure both The Joint Commission's (TJC) standards and internal protocols are met. See our complete selection of IV and line labels here.

This first in a four part series that details how you can use IV & Line labels more effectively to improve patient outcomes. Visit the home page and subscribe to our newsletter to get the next installment delivered to your inbox


2An ADE refers to any injury occurring at the time a drug is used, whether or not it is identified as a cause of the injury.


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