Br J Nurs. 2023 Jul 27;32(14):S14-S20. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2023.32.14.S14.
Historically, gaining peripheral intravenous (IV) access for patients with difficult intravenous access (DIVA) has been problematic and associated with increased complications, central venous access device insertion and reduced patient satisfaction. Consequently, extended-length peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVCs) have been developed, but to date no real-world data exploring their effectiveness with NHS patients has been published. This article reports on the results of introducing extended-length PIVCs, inserted using ultrasound guidance in patients with DIVA by a vascular access team. This began in 2019, across an adult tertiary hospital setting in the NHS with about 750 beds. The specialties at this hospital include, but are not limited to, emergency medicine; head and neck; vascular; diabetes and endocrinology; respiratory; care of the older person; stroke services; gastroenterology; and trauma and orthopaedics. The vascular access team recorded 1485 individual insertions between 2019 to 2022, with a mean dwell time of 6 days, a first attempt success rate of 91%, and a therapy completion rate of 75 and 78% for inpatient and outpatients respectively. Indications included administration of IV fluids, medication, blood products and access for investigations or procedures. Obtaining reliable IV access in patients with DIVA prevents treatment delays, cancelled or delayed procedures, both of which benefit patients and the healthcare organisation. The data presented in this study support the use of extended-length PIVCs in patients with DIVA and has led to the development of new referral pathways.