ANZCA endorses new clinical catheter standard

26 May 2021

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released a new standard on how to insert, maintain and remove peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVCs) safely and effectively.

The new standard released on 26 May provides national guidance on best practice care and skillful use of PIVCs – and is aimed at prompting health workers to consider whether a cannula is really necessary before insertion.

For the 7.7 million Australians who have a PIVC – also known as a cannula or ‘drip’ – inserted each year, their hospital experience is set to become safer. The Commission says up to 40 per cent of all first-time attempts to insert a PIVC in an adult fail and up to 69 per cent of cannulas need to be removed due to complications.

The Management of Peripheral Intravenous Catheters Clinical Care Standard  describes the care that patients should expect to receive if they have a PIVC inserted during a hospital stay.

ANZCA is one of several medical colleges and health care organisations that have endorsed the new standard.

A media release from the Commission quotes NSW FANZCA and FFPMANZCA Dr Jennifer Stevens saying that even if a small percentage of people have complications from PIVCs, this translates into large numbers of people affected because it is such a common procedure.

“The new clinical care standard will help to improve the experience of all patients who have a PIVC,” said Dr Stevens.

“For those patients who have recurrent problems with cannula insertion, it may be appropriate to escalate more rapidly to a senior clinician than we have done in the past, which means adjusting our mindset.

“As an anaesthetist, part of my role is to ensure excellent peripheral access before a patient goes to the ward. The site where a cannula is inserted and the way it is secured – so that the entry point at the skin is visible and movement of the cannula is prevented – are two easy ways to help prevent infection and avoid the need to replace a cannula early. We need to get this right every time when a cannula is being left in.”

Dr Stevens added: “The site of the cannula makes a big difference. For example, a cannula in the elbow crease is painful, makes sleep impossible when the occlusion alarm keeps going off all night, doesn't last long and is more prone to infections.”


Last updated 17:08 26.05.2021