1. Alexander, Mary BS, CRNI

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Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure.

As clinicians, we all can tell anecdotes about how we had a positive impact on patient care. We can relate the glowing compliments our patients expressed about the quality of care delivered by an infusion nurse. But meeting the challenges of the current healthcare environment-such as greater patient acuity, advancements and developments in technology, nursing shortages, and fiscal constraints-will require more than personal observations. We need research to support our specialty practice.


It is difficult to make an impact on the specialty without the support of published research. The results of research can lead to a change in practice or a justification of the existing practice. INS recognizes this in the 2000 Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice, where each standard is thoroughly supported by current research. Ultimately, we hope that "best practice" is achieved.


With this aim in mind, I am pleased to feature in this issue the results of INS' first research study, "The Infusion Nurse and Patient Complication Rates of Peripheral-Short Catheters." The data have demonstrated that patients who had a peripheral infusion device inserted by an infusion nurse exhibited a statistically significant lower rate of leakage, phlebitis, and infiltration. Moreover, the devices placed by infusion nurses remained in the patient's vein significantly longer. INS wanted to look at the benefit of the individual infusion nurse, as the current literature already reports the benefit of infusion therapy teams. With these teams being eliminated or reduced to fewer team members, it is imperative to demonstrate the positive impact of the individual infusion nurse on patient care.


Healthcare organizations are constrained by a nursing shortage and a limited number of competent practitioners. Having infusion nurses on staff, thus designating appropriate healthcare personnel to specific areas of patient care, has been shown to result in the use of fewer materials, less nursing time spent on infusion procedures, and lower complication rates. From the fiscal perspective, fewer complications translates into decreased treatment costs and shorter hospital stays. The benefits are clear and quantifiable. A more difficult measure to assess is patient satisfaction, though this is typically favorable when a patient has a positive infusion therapy experience.


We have long known that the infusion nurse provides safe, high-quality patient care and is vital to the structure of the healthcare organization. With studies such as this one, infusion nurses will have data that support their importance to their organization and patients.


Research is crucial for the advancement of the profession and the specialty practice of infusion nursing. Like learning, research needs to be ongoing. I urge you all to become actively involved in research by acting on your ideas. Perhaps a common occurrence or issue in your practice may trigger a question that could be answered by conducting a research study. Studies do not have to be huge, involved projects to have a direct benefit to infusion practice. Seek out resources and researchers who can assist you in starting a project-there are many who are willing to help. Collaborate with your colleagues and draw on their expertise. There are many ways to participate in a research study: you can supply data, report results, or interpret statistics. Publish your findings once a complete analysis has been done. You could be sharing knowledge that will impact clinical practice for years to come.