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An 81-year-old man was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with a gastrointestinal bleed and referred for a diagnostic colonoscopy. The nurse preparing the patient for the colonoscopy mistakenly selected a jug of dialysis liquid rather than a polyethylene glycol solution commonly used to clean the colon for colonoscopy. When the barcode on the jug of dialysis liquid did not scan, the nurse called the hospital pharmacy for assistance and was provided a new barcode via a tube system.
Tanski MC. Pharmacy Times Health Systems edition. September 2023;12(5):34-35.
ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Acute care edition. July 13, 2023;(4):1-3;July 27, 2023;(5):1-5.
This case represents a known but generally preventable complication of calcium chloride infusion, eventually necessitating surgical amputation of the patient’s left fourth (ring) finger. The commentary discusses the importance of correctly identifying IV fluids as irritants or vesicants, risks associated with the use of vesicants such as calcium chloride, and the role of early recognition of infiltration and extravasation and symptom management to minimize tissue damage and accelerate healing.