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Analysis

Why Auditing Catheter Dislodgement Is a Patient Safety Must

By Christopher Cheney  
   January 21, 2019

In new survey, 68% of clinicians reported frequent incidents of catheter dislodgement.

Dislodgement of venous access devices such as catheters is widespread and underreported, a survey of 1,500 clinicians shows.

There are several negative impacts from dislodgement of peripheral and central catheters including interrupted treatment, supply waste with catheter replacement, phlebitis, and infection.

Dislodgement is a significant source of wasteful spending at health systems and hospitals, the author of the survey, Nancy Morneau, RN, PhD, of Hartwell Georgia-based PICC Excellence Inc., told HealthLeaders last week.

"Accidental dislodgement may be a much bigger problem than central line associated blood stream infections. It contributes to the increasing cost of healthcare. When we look at the estimates of dislodged catheters, there are more than five million incidents. If you put dollars and cents to that, it's more than a billion dollars that is lost every year," she said.

The survey found high rates of catheter dislodgement.

  • 68% of clinicians surveyed said accidental dislodgement occurred often, daily, or multiple times daily
     
  • 96% said peripheral intravenous catheters were the most commonly dislodged vascular access device
     
  • The top three reasons for dislodgement were confused patient (80%), patients removing catheters (74%), and loose IV catheter tape or securement (65%)

Audits essential step
 

Auditing incidences of catheter dislodgement and other vascular access device failures is crucial to managing care, Morneau said.

"With value-based purchasing and pay-for-performance, everyone is on alert to reduce complications with these devices whether they are peripheral or central. By auditing complications—specifically dislodgement—we can identify causes and incidents. Then you can look to the solutions."

Documentation is a key element of auditing.

The electronic medical record should account for discontinuation of vascular access devices for a patient including dislodgement, Morneau said.

"The EMR should have appropriate choices that include dislodgement and whether it was associated with securement, the dressing, or a patient dislodgement or a staff dislodgement. Looking at the reasons helps us to reach what the solutions may be."

Health systems and hospitals also should encourage reporting of catheter dislodgements, she said.

"Hospitals can stress compliance with documentation and work on electronic medical record documentation in order to provide clear choices that are consistent with the reasons for catheter failure with dislodgement. Making a more accurate notation is one of the best ways hospitals can move forward with managing dislodgement."

Auditing is foundational to improving vascular access device care, Morneau said. "Audit can help you achieve two key results: increasing education and helping to recognize where there are safety issues."

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Dislodged catheters can cause infections and other complications.

The annual cost of dislodged catheters is about $1 billion.

Effective auditing of catheter dislodgements identifies reasons behind incidents such as securement and dressing failures.


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