In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have investigated a number of instances of IV bag and fluid contamination. If not sterilized properly, IV bags provide a moist environment that is nearly-perfect for bacterial colonization and reproduction. When contaminated fluids are infused into a patient's bloodstream through a peripheral IV or central line, a patient may experience:
- flu-like illness,
- respiratory distress,
- hypotension, and
Once bacteria enters a patient's bloodstream, it can colonize virtually any organ or system. Should the bacteria overwhelm the body's ability to fight infection, a patient may become septic. Untreated sepsis can lead to death.
In January of 2015, the FDA announced that approximately forty (40) bags of "simulated" intravenous fluids were improperly administered to hospital patients in seven states, including: New York, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado. Apparently, the bags were meant for training only and, in turn, the bags and their contents were not properly sterilized. Click here to read the FDA MedWatch safety alert titled "Simulated IV Solutions from Wallcur: CDER Statement - FDA's Investigation into Patients being Injected."
Perhaps the most publicized instance of contaminated IV bags was in Alabama in 2011, when approximately nineteen (19) patients were sickened following IV fluid administration. Nine (9) hospital patients died. The suspected pathogen was a dangerous bacteria known as serratia marcescens. The IV bags at issue in Alabama contained intravenous nutrition, known as parenteral nutrition (PM) or total parenteral nutrition (TPN). As PN and TPN are usually administered through a central line, which is a vein leading to the heart, any pathogens in the IV fluids are quickly spread throughout the body.
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