SonoStudy: US-guided lines by nurses (& docs) reduce need for physician intervention (& central lines!) for difficult access

A recent study, from the Journal of Emergency Medicine, by Weiner et al at Tufts University, in addition to so many of the prior studies, proves that nurses SHOULD perform ultrasound guided peripheral line placement. they are good at it, they do it right, and they do it well. Oh, and patients love it.

“Emergency physicians (EPs) have become facile with ultrasound-guided intravenous line (USIV) placement in patients for whom access is difficult to achieve, though the procedure can distract the EP from other patient care activities…..A prospective multicenter pilot study: Interested emergency nurses (ENs) received a 2-h tutorial from an experienced EP. Patients were eligible for inclusion if they had either two failed blind peripheral intravenous (i.v.) attempts, or if they reported or had a known history of difficult i.v. placement. Consenting patients were assigned to have either EN USIV placement or standard of care (SOC).” 50 patients enrolled, 29 assigned to USIV and 21 to SOC. “Physicians were called to assist in 11/21 (52.4%) of SOC cases and 7/29 (24.1%) of USIV cases (p = 0.04). Patient satisfaction was higher in the USIV group, though the difference did not reach statistical significance (USIV 86.2% vs. SOC 63.2%, p = 0.06). ”

And, even more recently, another study:

Ultrasound-Guided Peripheral Intravenous Access Program Is Associated With a Marked Reduction in Central Venous Catheter Use in Noncritically Ill Emergency Department Patients.

by Shokoohi et al from George Washington University published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine has been getting quite a bit of press – particularly from MedwireNews: “Training emergency department (ED) staff in use of ultrasound to guide difficult peripheral intravenous catheter placement appears to reduce the unnecessary use of central venous lines, a study suggests. The reduction in central venous line use after the introduction of ultrasound training was particularly notable for patients who were not critically ill, report Hamid Shokoohi (George Washington University, DC, USA) and colleagues…..They say that this has “potentially major implications for patient safety,” noting that around 15% of the 5 million central venous catheters placed in the USA annually result in complications, which can include blood infections, thrombosis, vessel damage, and hematomas.”

The study itself was: “….a time-series analysis of the monthly central venous catheter rate among adult emergency department (ED) patients in an academic urban ED between 2006 and 2011. During this period, emergency medicine residents and ED technicians were trained in ultrasound-guided peripheral intravenous access. We calculated the monthly central venous catheter placement rate overall and compared the central venous catheter reduction rate associated with the ultrasound-guided peripheral intravenous access program between noncritically ill patients and patients admitted to critical care. Patients receiving central venous catheters were classified as noncritically ill if admitted to telemetry or medical/surgical floor or discharged home from the ED. RESULTS: During the study period, the ED treated a total of 401,532 patients, of whom 1,583 (0.39%) received a central venous catheter. The central venous catheter rate decreased by 80% between 2006 (0.81%) and 2011 (0.16%). The decrease in the rate was significantly greater among noncritically ill patients (mean for telemetry patients 4.4% per month [95% confidence interval {CI} 3.6% to 5.1%], floor patients 4.8% [95% CI 4.2% to 5.3%], and discharged patients 7.6% [95% CI 6.2% to 9.1%]) than critically ill patients (0.9%; 95% CI 0.6% to 1.2%). The proportion of central venous catheters that were placed in critically ill patients increased from 34% in 2006 to 81% in 2011 because fewer central venous catheterizations were performed in noncritically ill patients. CONCLUSION: The ultrasound-guided peripheral intravenous access program was associated with reductions in central venous catheter placement, particularly in noncritically ill patients. Further research is needed to determine the extent to which such access can replace central venous catheter placement in ED patients with difficult vascular access.”

A great video on the scanning technique and choosing the right vein can be found here by SonoSite and taught by my good friend, Diku Mandavia:

Another great how-to video can be found here: although long, its a good one for a step-by-step, from the New England Journal of Medicine:


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