Improving the use of vascular access devices

Increasing the best practice use of vascular access devices within Australian medical settings would improve patient outcomes and provide significant cost savings to the economy.

This is the call from Professor Claire Rickard from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

IV (intravascular) access using catheters, cannulas etc, is at the centre of modern medicine, with the devices being the most commonly used in invasive medical procedures in Australia, where approximately 30 million are used each year.

Set to speak at the inaugural National Scientific Meeting on Vascular Access in Brisbane (Friday 29- Saturday 30 April), Professor Rickard will present evidence showing that there are large gaps in IV research and best practice implementation, and that where research evidence exists, there is often a failure to implement.

“Improved IV practice in Australia is unfortunately, significantly lagging behind other developed countries,” says Professor Rickard, referring to findings published in The Lancet in 2012, which although acknowledged and implemented in the UK and USA, has not yet been fully implemented in Australia.

“It is clear from our findings, that it would result in improved patient outcomes such as fewer interruptions to therapy, less pain/discomfort from unnecessary needles and reduced risks of IV failure.

40% failure rate

“Research repeatedly demonstrates a 40% failure rate with IV usage,” Professor Rickard says. “At a cost of approximately $70 per IV that is $700 million. If we can just reduce failure form 40% to 30% as a result of better insertion and care, we could save $175 million nationally and improve patient experience.

“Emerging culture and research is greatly moving towards a far more informed decision making process for the individual patient, which starts with choosing the right device for them inserted by the correct professional from the beginning of the process.”

The call is supported at the event by Dr Vineet Chopra, aresearch scientist from theUniversity of Michigan, US.

“Use of the most appropriate vascular access device is the foundation of safe and reliable venous access,” says Dr Chopra. “Ideally, device selection is informed by numerous factors including clinical context, provider training and availability of specific devices or technologies. Such decisions should also be guided by available evidence and data regarding the safety, efficacy and durability of one particular approach versus another.”

In his presentation, Dr Chopra will review key evidence that informs decision-making in vascular access and will discuss the development of the Michigan Appropriateness Guide to Intravenous Catheters (or MAGIC) which shows that early application of this process is key to improving the use of vascular devices in hospital settings.

Meanwhile internationally recognised nursing researcher Nancy Moureau will talk on Vessel health and preservation: Applying evidence for the best outcomes.

“Unfortunately, little has been done to develop an intentional process for vascular access selection and management for this common invasive procedure,” says Ms Moureau. “Traditional vascular access is reactive, painful and ineffective, often resulting in the exhaustion of all peripheral veins prior to consideration of other access options.”

For more information and a detailed program on the National Scientific Meeting on Vascular Access, please visit