Infusion Nursing as a Specialty

Infusion therapy has evolved from an extreme measure used on only the most critically ill to a highly specialized form of treatment used for 90% or more of all hospitalized patients. No longer confined to the hospital setting, infusion therapies are now delivered in alternative care sites such as the home, skilled nursing facilities, and physician offices.

Nursing involvement in the practice of infusion therapy has also become a highly specialized practice. During the last 60 years, the role of the nurse in infusion therapy has evolved tremendously. The 21st century infusion nurse is responsible for integrating the holistic principles of medicine and nursing, management, marketing, education, and performance improvement into the patient’s plan of care. Clinical expertise is of utmost importance.

Since the 1980s there has been rapid growth in the specialty practice of infusion nursing as evidenced by the following developments:

  • Development of the 1980 Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice (revised 1990, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2011)
  • Declaration by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 1, 1980, that January 25 of each year will be recognized as IV Nurse Day
  • Development by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of “standard precautions” (1987)
  • Publication of the CDC Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections supporting the use of trained personnel (2002)
  • Initiation of central line bundling recommendations by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) (2006)

The growth of the infusion nursing specialty continues with the advances in pharmacology and technology. As new biologic agents, whose method of administration is via infusion, continue to increase, so too will the infusion nurse’s role. And as that role strengthens and grows, INS will remain committed to providing the educational opportunities and resources to support our members and the specialty.


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