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February 2013

Crystal Rice, BSN, RN
Clinical Research Center
Registered Nurse 3, VPNPP

Type of project: Research
Title of project: The Effects of Saline Flushes on Taste and Smell
Description of project: IV catheters are routinely flushed with saline to maintain IV patency, which is standard of care practice. Some patients have experienced a taste and/or smell when their IV catheter is flushed with saline. IV catheters are flushed with saline from a commercially prefilled syringe and/or saline from a multi-dose vial or bag depending on unit policy/procedure and/or nurse preference. Some patients have experienced a taste and/or smell when their IV catheter is flushed with saline. 

References used during this project:

  1. Kongsgaard, U., Andersen, A., Oien, M., et al. Experience of unpleasant sensations in the mouth after injection of saline from prefilled syringes. BMC Nurs. 2010; 9(1).
  2. Blossom, D., Noble-Wang, J., Su, J., et al. Multistate Outbreak of Serratia marcescens Bloodstream Infections Caused by Contamination of Prefilled Heparin and Isotonic Sodium Chloride Solution Syringes. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169(18): 1705-1711.
  3. Stucki, C., Sautter, A., Favet, J., et al. Microbial contamination of syringes during preparation:  The direct influence of environmental cleanliness and risk manipulations on end-product quality. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2009; 66: 2032-2036.

Why you chose this project: Having been a nurse for almost 8 years I have heard a lot of my patients’ say that they could taste or smell something when their IV was flushed with saline. In 2010, I was accepted into the EBNP Fellowship program, and during this program I learned how to appropriately search the literature and design a nursing research study. When searching the literature there was little evidence to be found regarding this issue. The new knowledge that I had gained from the fellowship allowed me to successfully conduct a nursing research study to compare the commercially prefilled syringe of saline to the multi-dose bag of saline in order to prove that this hypothesis was actually true.  This project, which was completed in 2012, proved that prefilled saline syringes will cause the patient to experience a taste and/or smell after their IV catheter is flushed with saline.

Future plans: Currently a manuscript is being written and will be submitted for publication.

Poster presentations:
1.) The Effects of Saline Flushes on Taste and Smell - VUMC Nursing Research Day; Nashville, TN. October 17, 2012.


If you have any questions about Crystal's project she can be reached via email at Crystal.N.Rice@Vanderbilt.Edu.