Prevent cross contamination with single sterile IV start kits

In ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals across America, it’s common practice for IV supplies to be housed in a single bin. However, this practice can contribute to cross contamination among patients.


The potential risk occurs when clinicians use the same bin to start IVs as they move from patient to patient. Consider the probability of a clinician contaminating this bin while retrieving supplies after having patient contact.  For example, after applying the tourniquet to the patient’s arm to assess vein size, the clinician must reach into the bin to choose the appropriate catheter. Another example is if the clinician reaches into the bin for additional 2x2 gauze to absorb unanticipated bleeding if the vein is unintentionally ruptured. Because these and similar scenarios are common, the risk of cross contamination increases exponentially every day.

According to the World Health Organization, “…an infected healthcare worker can touch a patient and directly transmit a large number of microorganisms to the new host… Subsequent contact between (the infected) item and another patient is likely to contaminate the second individual who may then develop an infection.”1

Medical tape is a prime and often overlooked example of this risk. When the same roll of tape is used for multiple patients, there is the risk of cross contamination. Because an entry point is created when the skin is punctured, there’s an increased likelihood that this cross contamination negatively affects the patient and results in infection. This is why the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends using a single roll of tape for each patient and not reusing it with others.2


A viable solution to decrease risk


Consider changing the practice of utilizing shared bins that can lead to catheter site infection to single sterile IV start kits. From a supply chain perspective, making the switch has other benefits as well. Instead of ordering multiple items in bulk, materials managers can reduce these SKUs to one by ordering a single kit that includes all of the required supplies. Consolidating this inventory can also save valuable storage space. 

Another way single sterile IV kits save money is by reducing waste and saving on the cost of packaging and processing. With a bin system, some of the supplies are individually packaged and sterilized upon purchase, which costs more than their nonsterile counterparts. In contrast, kit components are purchased nonsterile and assembled into standard or customized kits, which are then sterilized as a whole. 

Plus, utilizing a short, single-use roll of medical tape significantly reduces waste. In one study cited by Infection Control Today, only one yard of a typical 10-yard roll of tape was being used and the rest discarded.3 When you consider how many rolls of tape your facility uses over the course of a year, the savings can really add up.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) standards of practice recommend this single sterile approach. That’s critically important, because ASC accrediting organizations such as the AAAHC (Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care) rely heavily on AORN recommendations when performing surveys or inspections.

In the world of value-based care, reducing HAIs is key. With an ever-growing list of nosocomial “superbugs,” there is heightened awareness in the medical community regarding contributing factors, such as cross contamination when starting IVs. This issue is significant, considering catheter related infections account for approximately 30%4 of hospital acquired infections (HAIs). 

ASCs and surgical hospitals can take a proactive step to prevent cross contamination when starting IVs by using single sterile IV start kits.


1 World Health Organization (WHO)
2 Infection Control Today. “Single-Patient Rolls of Medical Tape Reduce Cross-Contamination Risk.”
3 Infection Control Today. “Single-Patient Rolls of Medical Tape Reduce Cross-Contamination Risk.”
4 Infection Control Today. “Preventing Intravenous Catheter-Associated Infections: An Update.”



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