A prospective controlled trial of the efficacy of isopropyl alcohol wipes before venesection in surgical patients

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Abstract

It has previously been suggested that skin preparation before venesection with antiseptic agents is unnecessary. However thousands of doctors and medical students continue to use isopropyl alcohol (IPA) swabs for venesection, at an estimated cost of £10,000 per annum in a 500 bed hospital. An audit of IPA swab use among junior doctors and medical students at our institution was undertaken; 76% of doctors and 100% of medical students routinely prepared the skin with alcohol before venesection and only one used the swabs correctly. A randomised single-blind controlled trial was conducted of IPA versus no IPA skin preparation before venesection. There were 194 patients in the study, 93 in the IPA group and 101 controls. There was no statistical difference with respect to complications at the venepuncture site between the two groups.

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Sutton, C. D., White, S. A., Edwards, R., & Lewis, M. H. (1999). A prospective controlled trial of the efficacy of isopropyl alcohol wipes before venesection in surgical patients. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 81(3), 183–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0278-2391(00)90350-1

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