Almost every prominent ancient culture identified the value of blood. Blood often held a mystical attraction and was the main “currency” for sacrificial offerings and gifts to the deities of the time. Far before western medicine began to investigate blood flow the ancient Chinese Physicians deduced that blood flow as controlled by the heart and circulated through the body in a never-ending circle.
The practices of bloodletting and oral consumption of blood remained the dominate blood related practices until about the 16th century. Scientists in the 16th century began to examine the movements of blood throughout the body and began to experiment with the concept of adding blood or fluids directly into a patient’s bloodstream. These early transfusions and infusions involved reusable quills and animal bladders and other rudimentary (To us now, at least) tools. However, poor patient outcomes (high mortality rates) and negative public outlook diminished the popularity of IV therapy and as such the use of medicinal leeches and physician ordered bloodletting experienced an additional boom.
It then took several centuries, and a massive Cholera outbreak, to encourage further investigations into IV therapy. During the large scale international Cholera outbreaks the first recorded wide-scale successes with saline administration were recorded. However, it wasn’t until 1901 and 1907 that IV Therapy would take off. These dates correspond with the discoveries of the 4 major blood types by Karl Landsteiner and by Jan Jansky. These discoveries helped reduce the mortality rates of past blood transfusions and significantly improved patient outcomes. However, it was the two devastating world wars that helped to spur the international use of IV therapy.
In 1918 Oswald Robertson, a medical officer in the Canadian Military, successfully transfused blood for 22 World War I patients. Positive success stories similar to Robertson’s led to the widespread military medical adoption of transfusions for patient in shock or who were severely burned. Soon after, blood banks were established in major cities throughout the United States (and Russia) and the practice began to grow quickly in order to meet the wartime needs. Three other key discoveries helped to then further pave the way to modern IV Infusion Therapy: The disposable plastic needle (1930’s), Aseptic Technique (1940’s), and the Plastic Collection Bag (1950’s).
Today it is estimated by the World Health Organization that over 80% of all hospitalized patients will receive some form of IV therapy. Accordingly, IV therapy is one the major facets of successful nursing care. Currently, there are over 40 standard infusion solutions used regularly throughout the world and the prevalence of IV therapy continues to grow. In spite of the leaps in technology and safety, complications continue to occur – Phlebitis, extravasation, and medication/blood errors being the most concerning.
The frequency of infusion complications, coupled with the speed at which IV therapy continues to change, has created a large need for evidence based practice online CNE courses focused on IV Therapy. Take for example an instance of a nurse starting to practice in 1980. Now, in 2014/2015 the changes that you will have seen throughout your career are tremendous. IV therapy has changed quickly and rapidly, and only through your ability to react to the modernization has patient care been improved. Undoubtedly, continuing education is a must – especially for health care teams wishing to adapt and grow to better serve their patients. As health care providers it is only through our ability to drive continuous improvement that we can continue to improve the levels of patient care within our organizations.