AIM: Numerous intravenously-administered medications are also available in equally effective oral forms. To assess the number of avoidable intravenous infusions, we retrospectively analyzed consecutive infusions prescribed in a department of internal medicine.
METHODS: Between November and December 2004, we analyzed all patients who received at least one intravenous drug during hospitalization. Intravenous administration was considered unavoidable when prescribed for no more than 2 days in a patient unstable at admission, when oral administration or feeding was impossible, or when the drug was not available in oral form.
RESULTS: During the study period 133 patients were admitted to the department. In all, 65 infusions were prescribed, 30% of which lasted more than 2 days for no medical reason. Four intravenous antibiotics were prescribed in patients when their antibiotic susceptibility tests indicated that another oral antibiotic could easily be given. Infusions for 16 other patients continued longer than 48 hours, although the oral route was not contraindicated in these patients and the medication was available in oral form.
CONCLUSION: Systematic analysis of the daily prescriptions may be helpful in preventing or shortening use of intravenous medications and thereby decreasing iatrogenic infections and injuries, length of hospitalization, and costs.